Are you put off by Facebook’s ambiguous 20 percent ad-text policy?

Of all the dumb things that Facebook has done, this has to take the cake.

Since mid-January, Facebook has been assessing newstream ads (promoted posts and sponsored stories) and denying ads that contain more than 20 percent overlay text.

You can have a read of Facebook’s PDF explaining the new 20 percent rule for newstream ads here (hat tip to Elle Butler from Wordify for sharing this:

I get they want to improve the quality of images in the newstream but the problem is, for many businesses, this is all just a bit too overwhelming.

When you’re overwhelmed, you tend to do nothing…

Or you head to Twitter!

Seriously though, if you’re going to pay for advertising, you want to know that it’s going to be worth your while. Otherwise, what’s the point?

This move by Facebook has definitely put a cabosh on me spending money on promoted posts and sponsored stories, not because my images are text heavy (well, some of them have been… aka quotes and memes), but because I don’t have the time or inclination to sit there with a calculator, trying to work out if my text overlay takes up 5 out of 25 blocks.

With the rule also applying to cover images, I wonder how many businesses risk losing their pages as a result of just not keeping up with the changes.

Here’s how the Content Marketing Cardiology Banner would fair:

facebook timeline cover with 25 block grid

According to Facebook, your text is allowed to take up no more than 5 of these blocks in their 25 block grid.

So, how do you work around this?

The best thing you can do is to leave your text for your photo description. You can wax eloquent as much as you like in your description and include links and all kinds of things. Go nuts! Most people don’t know they can add a description to their cover images. This is something to keep in mind, next time you add a new cover image to your Facebook Page.

So, my question for you today is: Has this new 20 percent ad-text rule put you off from spending money on Facebook ads? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Download the Facebook Text Allowance Grid

In any case, because I’m reeeeeeeeally nice, here’s a grid graphic that might help (if you use photoshop or something similar for your images). Just right click and “save as” the below image on your computer, then place it as a layer over your image and check how many boxes your text takes up. Too easy! You can adjust the width and height manually to fit whatever image you are using (if not a cover image).

Facebook Timeline Cover Grid

And, if you know someone who’s cover image might be breaking the rules, be sure to send them the link to this post, so they can download the Facebook text allowance grid. You might just be saving their Facebook page.

  • Janine Evans

    Thanks for the info! I was wondering how close to the wire mine might be. Unfortunately my two word business name takes up at least 4 blocks and the tag line might push me over. Very borderline. No guesses what I will be doing this weekend.

    • Cas McCullough

      :- ( …. such a waste of your time too. You could be doing other things like, I dunno, relaxing by a pool with a pina colada. I can think of about 100 things I’d rather do than mess around with my Facebook cover image.

  • PDWP

    Bloody Facebook and their stupid rules…does it really matter how much text is in the image? Argh!

    • Cas McCullough

      Hear! Hear! I hear ya!

  • Jubert Sagun

    I totally agree with you PDWP… Great post!..

    • Cas McCullough

      Thanks Jubert!

      • Jubert Sagun

        You are welcome Cas… I really enjoyed reading your blog… :) Hope to hear more from you soon…

  • Terri Z

    It’s definitely forcing me to be more creative in the images I choose for posts I might promote, because they are going to have to do the “selling” for me — instead of overlay text. I suppose you could look at it from the “a picture is worth a thousand words” perspective? Plus as you note you can add all the text and links you want at the top of the photo.

    I definitely know there are a lot of folks out there who are violating the 20% rule on their cover images. Should be interesting if they get warnings or if we see a spate of suspensions…

    • Cas McCullough

      Agreed Terri. I think it makes posting really confusing IMO.

  • randy

    Sounds like they just want pure branding.. a logo/name with the image.

  • Celina Johnson

    Love this post Cas! Very easy for people to use. I’ve downloaded your grid and I’ll be sharing it. Thanks.

    • Cas McCullough

      Hey Celina! Just saw your comment on this post. Better a late reply than a non-response eh! Thanks for your comment.

  • evnture

    I have found the policy frustrating. The size of the blocks is absurd, our ads have a thin title on the top and a watermark. In reality they take up less then 10% of the image. However, according to the folks at Facebook my watermark puts me just over the limit.

    We have moved to other advertising methods.

    • Cas McCullough


  • Kevin

    I have had dozens and dozens of rejected ads, and I always design very clean, professional looking ads. I’m not a text-heavy designer, but when you’re having to create designs around how a 5×5 grid and a 20% rule, it really takes the desire to advertise with Facebook away. I would imagine that they would increase revenue exponentially even if they just went to a 24% rules (6 boxes) or made the grid 10×10 so that the percentage was based less on box usage and more on actual percentage.

    It’s costing me more time and money trying to advertise around Facebook’s rules. Not worth it when 1 of 24 ads get approved.

    • Cas McCullough

      Hi Kevin, feel free to download the grid in the post above. It really does help!