Facebook Policy Introduces 20%-Text-Rule for Cover- & Sponsored Photos

[tl;dr] Starting Jan 5th 2013, certain types of photos and images on Facebook platform will be restricted as to the amount of text they may include (“text overlay”). These rules append according to the context in which images are published: Photo-postings on Facebook-pages which are subject to promoted stories may not contain more than 20% [...]

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[tl;dr] Starting Jan 5th 2013, certain types of photos and images on Facebook platform will be restricted as to the amount of text they may include (“text overlay”). These rules append according to the context in which images are published: Photo-postings on Facebook-pages which are subject to promoted stories may not contain more than 20% text. Non-sponsored Photo-postings are not affected. Cover images for Facebook pages may never contain more than 20% of text-overlay. Previous regulations (no pricing, no call-to-action, no contact-info…) remain in place for Cover-photos (but not Photo-postings which are promoted). The “20%-text-rule” will be enforced and checked automatically.

Update #1: Meanwhile, Facebook has clarified some questions in this document – we’ve updated this article accordingly!

Update #2: Kish has Paidto.co.uk have built a great tool that helps checking your photos for compliancy – thanks a lot!

Links: Facebook Ad GuidelinesPage Terms
Need help? Contact: office@socialisten.at

Its that time of the year again… to deal with some upcoming changes in Facebook Ad Guidelines and Page Terms ;)… When browsing the Terms earlier this week, we became aware of a significant impending policy update which will go into effect as soon as January 5th, 2013. In this change Facebook puts some regulations as to how and to which extent overlay-text  on photos and images can be used. This is obviously about marketing-messages of these types (examples from GoDaddy, but as you’re surely aware, there are a ton of consumer-companies promoting these type of posts ads):

screenshot_godaddy-570x435

The change is clearly aimed at improving the quality of Newsfeed, trying to minimize the amount of promotional messages & plain banner-like advertising, especially for promoted posts. If you think that’s contradicting, think again: what Facebook really is trying to do since switching to Timeline earlier this year, is convincing companies that story-telling and community-engagement is actually working better on Facebook than a more traditional marketing-approach. So, yes, the overall-idea in 2012 has been to increase ways to promote your stories, but at the same time increase story-quality as much as possible (and of course story-quality is easy to measure for Facebook: they just have to watch engagement-rates on posts).

As we understand the policies, the new regulations apply in two, and only these two contexts:

1. Cover-Images of Facebook Pages: The revised Page Terms include the requirement that “...Covers may not include images with more than 20% text” (III.B.). Pretty clear! Other requirements (no price or purchase-information, no contact-info including URLs, no references to Facebook social features, no call-to-action) are still standing and remain unchanged!

2. Sponsored Stories based on Images posted to a Facebook Page: The revised Ad Guidelines state that “Ads and sponsored stories for News Feed that originate from Pages may not include images with more than 20% text” (III.D). The previous policy acutally prohibited ”calls to action”, “price or purchase information” for images subject to sponsored posts – however this was very hard to execute and very often ignored (see screenshot above). So the good news is: while marketers have to limit themselves in terms of space, they are now free to hard-sell on those 20% of text however they want (please don’t).

Meanwhile, Facebook has confirmed that the 20% rule includes all ad-units in Newsfeed – photo page post ads, link page post ads (thumbnails), video page post ads (preview-image), offers, mobile app install ads and page like ads (profile image),

However: the new regulations don’t affect photos posted to a page as long as they are not promoted by the page-owner, and of course it also doesn’t affect private photos posted to your user-profile – so please don’t even bother tweeting that Facebook wants to censor your images ;) The regulations also don’t affect advertising outside of Newsfeed (right-hand-side ads, Logout-ads).

While the existing rules were hard to be executed and left lots of space for interpretation, the new “20%-text-rule” will be enforced algorithmically, probably at the time you want to upload a Cover-photo or promote an existing post. My personal bet is that this will also be included into Power Editor pretty soon.

To be confirmend:

There’s still some questions which have yet to be confirmed meanwhile have been confirmed by Facebook – we’ve reached out to our contacts at Facebook and will update here as soon as we get any feedback:

  • Does the 20% text-rule apply to thumbnails included in link-posts? Yes, as confirmed by Facebook!
  • Does the 20% text-rule apply to profile-pictures, which naturally also appear in sponsored stories? Yes, as confirmed by Facebook! This is only relevant if promoting your page with page like ads.
  • Its not totally clear how space occupied by text is actually calculated – its safe to assume however that  this will happen in an automated manner. Will the algorithm work on a bounding-box model or be more granular? What about logos? Facebook confirmed that a 5×5 grid is used to measure the amount of overlay-text. There’s some tolerance with leaking text.
  • What about screenshots? Photos of Graffiti? ;) Screenshots & infographics are not eligible for promotion anymore! Text or logos in product-photos (like the “Red Bull”-text on a soda can) don’t count against the 20% limit unless the image is zoomed in just to promote the brand.

More coverage: AllFacebook.de, Inside Facebook, AllFacebook.com

About Author

Michael Kamleitner

Michael Kamleitner is CEO & Product Manager at Swat.io, a Social Media Management solution that’s helping companies to improve their customer support & content management on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. Swat.io is currently used by companies such as 3Österreich, Hitradio Ö3, ÖBB, Focus Online and Burda Intermedia. Follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook or Google+!

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