Personal attributes and facebook ads

With how powerful Facebook advertising can be, especially for e-commerce, it can be devastating to see an ad you put a lot of time into get rejected by Facebook.

Even worse, sometimes Facebook can be pretty unclear about why your ad is rejected, giving only a vague term. In this article, we’ll go over one of those vague terms: personal attributes. 


So why are Facebook ads rejected for personal attributes?


Facebook rejects ads for the reason of personal attributes if it feels like you’re calling out these attributes in your ad. Facebook will not allow you to assert or imply any characteristics or your target audience in your ad copy. Ads must not contain content that implies personal characteristics, including race, ethic origin, religion, beliefs, age, sexual orientation or practices, gender identity, disability, medical condition, financial status, union membership, criminal record, or name.


A Quick Checklist


Here’s a quick checklist you can use to determine if your ad is likely to be rejected by Facebook for personal attributes:


  1. Does your ad imply anything about your audience?
  2. Does your ad assert anything about your audience?
  3. Will your audience feel targeted by your ad copy?
  4. Does your ad contain the words ‘you’ or ‘other’?
  5. Does your ad seem ‘creepy’ to an outside viewer?


If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then it’s likely Facebook will have a problem with your ad.

personal attributes- Acceptable and Rejected

In this section, we’ll go over each major section of personal attributes covered by Facebook’s policy, with an example and explanation for each one. However, here’s a quick list:

What Personal Attributes are Covered by Facebook’s Policy?

  1. Race
  2. Religion
  3. Age
  4. Sexual Orientation or Behavior
  5. Gender Identity
  6. Disability or Medical Condition
  7. Financial Status
  8. Voting or Union Status
  9. Criminal Record

1. Race

The first personal attribute Facebook is wary of targeting for is race. The example shows us how using the words ‘other’ and ‘you’ can be problematic in this context.

However, it also shows how Facebook does allow for the inclusion of racial characteristics, because you can include ‘Hispanic’ and ‘black’ in your ad no problem.

This makes it clear that Facebook just wants to make sure its users don’t feel targeted by their race:


2. Religion

Facebook also makes it clear that they don’t want users to feel targeted because of their religion.

In both the examples of phases disallowed in ad copy, either the word ‘you’ or ‘other’ is used. In the first example, the ad is directly targeting people they believe to be Christian.

In the second example, the ad is implying that their target is Christian. In all of the allowed examples, the ad makes no such assertions.

This shows how Facebook wants to make sure ad copy doesn’t feel targeted for religious purposes:




3. Age

Facebook will reject ads that they feel imply targeting towards age groups.

Again, it’s really about the implications of the ad copy. In the first example, the word ‘other’ is used, so that’s a pretty clear cut case. However, the second example isn’t quite as clear.

It doesn’t use either the word ‘you’ or ‘other’ but it’s still disallowed. This is because the ad copy is targeted specifically to 18-24 year old’s, and in combinations with targeting through Facebook’s ad manager, some pretty specific ads could be made.

These examples show how including too much specifics in your ads can cause problems for Facebook’s personal attributes guideline:



4. Sexual orientation or behavior

Next up in terms of attributes Facebook is wary of targeting for are sexual orientation or behavior. In our examples, it really comes down to the specifics of the language used in ad copy.

In both disallowed examples, the word ‘you’ or ‘other’ is used.

This illustrates that Facebook really cares that it doesn’t seem like you’re targeting a specific group of people, even if you are.

Basically, Facebook wants your ad copy to be general enough to not feel targeted directly at whoever is seeing the ad.

Although it’s fine to include specifics of orientation in your ad copy, be careful not to make it seem too targeted.



5. Gender Identity

Facebook also doesn’t allow for the targeting of personal attributes that have to do with gender identity.

Although it is fine to include these specifics in your ad, Facebook will have a problem if you imply that your target audience has these characteristics in your ad.

In our examples, it’s clear that the ad copy makes it seem like the ad was targeted for the viewer, which is exactly what Facebook wants to avoid.



6. Disabilities and medical conditions

If it seems like you’re implying that your audience has a disability or medical condition, Facebook will likely reject your ad.

This is because again, personal attributes are something that Facebook is careful not to make it seem like they are targeting, and disabilities and medical conditions fall under this category.

In our example, we see how the mention of specific conditions is just fine, but the implication your target audience is dealing with them is not.



7. Financial Status

Facebook also will not allow you to assert or imply any financial statuses your target audience might have, even if you’re targeting them through Facebook.

In our example, neither the word ‘you’ or ‘other’ is used, however it is still rejected for personal attributes.

This is because it implies that the target is struggling financially. However, in the acceptable example, it’s a little more broad.

This shows how keeping your ad copy broad can help prevent your ads from getting rejected:



8. voting status or union membership

Facebook will reject ads if they feel your copy asserts or implies the voting status of an individual. In our example, again neither the word ‘you’ or ‘other’ is used, but it is still rejected. This is because the rejected examples directly assert something about voter registration.

This is rejected because it makes users feel targeted. This shows how a direct assertion of attributes will cause your ads to be rejected by Facebook. Similarly, Facebook will not allow you to assert or imply anything about your target audience’s status of membership in a trade union.

In the rejected example, the ad copy is implying the viewer is part of a union.

Although you may know this, Facebook doesn’t want your audience to feel like they’re being targeted because of it.



9. Criminal record

The last personal attribute Facebook is wary about targeting for is a criminal record. Facebook does not want it to seem like individuals with a criminal background are being targeted to.

In our example, the rejected ad copy asks about criminal status, which is a form of implication.

This shows how implications of personal attributes will be rejected by Facebook:



facebook ads- personal attributes

Now that we’ve gone over each personal attribute that Facebook will be extra careful about targeting, hopefully you’ve found out why your ad was rejected by Facebook for this reason.

Usually, it’s a quick fix to get these ads approved, as it’s a problem with the ad copy, not your product, site, or landing page. For this reason, it can be extremely important to be careful of personal attributes in Facebook ads.

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