Facebook removes 20% text limit on ad images

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Facebook’s guidelines had become less strict over the years, and this week marked the total abandonment of the 20% text limit.

Media buyers on the Facebook platform recently began to notice a big change: Their images were no longer frowned upon by a large amount of text.

It has been confirmed through some sources that the long-standing rule that Facebook ad images do not exceed 20% of the text has been extinguished. Shoppers began receiving direct communication from Facebook this week regarding this change:

Prior to this communication, media buyers noticed that the text overlay tool page was redirecting. At that time, the documentation for the social network, Facebook, had not been updated, but it appears to have been updated in the last few days.

While it still gives advice on how to reduce the text ratios in ad images, it now falls short of saying stay at 20%. Instead, it now cautions the 20% metric as a best practice:

The “20% rule” historically

The purpose of the rule was originally to reduce noise on Facebook news. Especially before the multiple ad units and media options out there now, the Feed was mostly text and images. Adding even more text had the potential to make for a more overwhelming and messy experience.

However, over time, the platform evolved. Text in an image was no longer the distraction it might have been as Facebook continued to launch new types of ads that were much more eye-catching.

There was also the suspicion that the text of an image showed very clearly that it was an advertisement. Before, users could easily create many photo experiences with their phone to include text, borders, emojis, etc., users posted simple images. The text was highlighted as an anomaly, which had the potential to cause a user to immediately realize it was an ad and scroll through it.

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While ads with an image of more than 20% text tended to be rejected, years ago they smoothed it out to allow it to run on a “limited” basis.

This was typically noticeable at impression levels between textless and low-text ad images, and ads received a ranking system to warn advertisers in 2016:

20% text overlay tool

A major point of frustration was also simply knowing if he had committed a violation. A verdict was not issued on the proportion of text ahead of time – an advertiser would simply realize they were breaking the law and the ad would not run.

Facebook finally released the Text Overlay Tool, allowing advertisers to upload the images they wanted to run. The tool would then verify each of them and give advertisers immediate feedback on the status of the text.

Exceptions prior to the 20% rule

There were cases where ad copy did not count towards that 20% threshold. These included:

Infographics                                                                                                         Covers for things like books
A product image with a text label.
Event posters
Legal disclaimer
Screenshots for things like apps and software
Cartoons or comics

While Facebook has not issued a formal statement, the updated page on the text in the ad images can be viewed here.


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