Facebook Tightens Rules for Low-Quality and Clickbait Ads

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

At any given minute, people are uploading millions of social media posts to platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Trying to stand out in a sea of content is difficult and many social media users (consumer and business alike) have used sensationalism or clickbaiting tricks to boost their reach and engagement. Facebook has taken a strong stance against certain kinds of clickbaiting tactics and they recently announced another crackdown on low-quality ads.

Facebook’s policy against clickbaiting began years ago, when in 2014, the company began reducing the reach of content that used certain kinds of headlines. This newest extension of the policy is designed to tackle what Facebook considers to be shocking, disruptive or malicious content.

Facebook explained its reasoning in a blog post lack week, which stated, “Low-quality ads on Facebook, such as ones that include clickbait or direct people to unexpected content, create bad experiences for people and don’t align with our goal of creating meaningful connections between people and businesses. We are now going further in our efforts to limit low-quality ads on our platforms by disapproving more of them and reducing distribution for more ads in our auction.”

In the blog post, Facebook singled out three types of abusive practices that it would be looking for in this updated policy:

Engagement bait: Ads with spammy content asking people to engage with it in specific ways, such as requesting likes, comments and shares. This doesn’t apply to engagement based contests (such as liking a post to enter a contest drawing). It’s more about post that use language such as “Like this post if you love Fridays.” or “True fans of the series will share this with their friends.”   

Withholding information: Ads that purposefully withhold information to entice people to click in order to understand the full context. This is a common tactic used on ad-revenue based sites, that want as many clicks as possible. This includes ads that use hooks like the classic clickbait phrase, “You won’t believe what happens next”.

Sensationalized language: Ads that use exaggerated headlines or command a reaction from people but don’t deliver on the landing page. This rule is designed to target ads that use terms like “MIND BLOWING”, “SHOCKED” or “AMAZING” that then leads to regular content.  

Though Facebook isn’t threatening to ban accounts, but the punishments they outlined are just as bad for social media marketers. For a start, individual ads with low-quality attributes will see reduced distribution on Facebook’s ad network, or could be disapproved entirely. Facebook was also keen to note that this applies to all advertisers, but they tend to see these characteristics more often in ads related to media, entertainment, politics or issues of national importance, and these ads may be impacted more by the policy.

Another thing to keep in mind is that continually running afoul of the policy could end up making all of an advertisers Facebook Ads less effective. As the company explained in the blog posts announcing the crackdown, “Multiple ads flagged with low-quality attributes may impact the performance of all ads from that advertiser.”

In the end, this change is for everyone’s benefit. Engagement bait tactics may seem like a good idea, but they more often than not annoy and insult your audience. These tricks were all the rage years ago, but at this point, most people know to ignore content like that and get annoyed when they see this kind of stuff in their feeds. If engagement baiting tactics were effective at delivering good traffic and a good experience to users, Facebook wouldn’t be banning it. So even if the change requires some blander, but more direct headlines, it’s a change that has to be made.

To learn more about recent changes to social media marketing platforms, read this article on Facebook’s new ban on certain social media optimization tactics.

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