Facebook Has Started Rejecting Law Firm’s Ads. FindLaw’s Research Reveals Why

Facebook Advertisement Changes

This year, Facebook underwent significant changes in the kinds of advertising it allows. After a rough year featuring privacy concerns and congressional hearings, the social media company cracked down on what they consider political or “issues-based” advertising. Unfortunately, Facebook has difficulty deciphering between a law firm’s ads—many of which discuss laws and regulations that could affect consumers—and those attempting to sway popular opinion.

FindLaw’s new white paper, Facebook’s Ad Rules Have Changed: Are You Prepared?, discusses the possible ramifications for your firm. Through extensive experimentation and analysis, we identified patterns in rejected ads, vulnerable practice areas and ways to work around Facebook’s newer, stricter guidelines.

What we found was a litany of rejected law firm ads that, on the surface, were innocuous enough. However, they were caught in the wide net Facebook now employs as a response to criticism that they weren’t doing enough to address social and political ads. Facebook remains one of the most potent advertising opportunities for law firms to reach potential clients, but if those ads aren’t allowed to appear, that power is lost.

So what can trigger the rejection of a law firm’s ad? That’s what FindLaw set out to discover.

FindLaw’s Database and What It Revealed

Over the years, FindLaw has amassed an extensive amount of data on the performance of Facebook legal ads. One of the services provided is creating and publishing effective Facebook advertising. In 2017, FindLaw published around 25,000 Facebook ads for thousands of law firms and used this data to better understand how Facebook’s ad policies have changed.

During the first two months the new ad rules were in place, FindLaw documented more than 250 instances of Facebook rejecting ads due to alleged political or issues-based content. That number represents roughly 10 percent of all ads created during that period. Of those 250 rejections, about a third of them occurred from June 18 through June 20. After that, daily rejections dropped by half.

It’s believed that around June 20, Facebook’s algorithm for approving or rejecting ads became more consistent and predictable. It’s typical with complex structures like this to go through a trial and error period. However, once the dust cleared, patterns were identified that helped successfully process more of our customers’ paid promotions.

Criminal Defense, Employment Law and Family Law were the most scrutinized areas where the bulk of rejected ads occurred. There were also a high number of rejected ads in what was classified as “Other,” with most associated with Immigration and Housing Law.

Rejection Volume by Practice Area

Something to note: This chart shows rejection by volume. True, more ads were rejected in the area of Criminal Defense compared to Tax Law. But FindLaw creates many more ads for firms specializing in Criminal Defense than for those involved in Tax Law. Because of this, we also looked at the total number of ads rejected as a percentage of that area of practice.

Here’s what was found:

Rejected ads a percentage of practice area total

As you can see, Tax and Employment Law were disproportionately affected by Facebook’s new ad regulations. The 2017 tax bill was politically charged, so it’s understandable that the social network would be weary of ads mentioning tax law.

But Criminal Defense? Business Law? Why were paid posts in those practice categories being turned down?

In some cases, a single factor caused the rejection. However, in most instances, there appeared to be several factors that appeared as red flags to Facebook’s algorithm. In other words, Facebook seemed to look at all the ad’s elements to determine whether it crossed a “political” line.

Luckily, when Facebook rejects an ad it doesn’t do so outright. Law firms have a chance to edit their posts to make them more compliant with Facebook’s standards. In addition, there’s an appeal process that gets a human involved. Instead of a computer algorithm deciding on the ad, someone from Facebook’s team will evaluate the ad to see if it was taken out of context.

Through our experience, FindLaw has learned how to successfully change or appeal law firm ads.

To find out how, download our newest white paper.

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