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August 15, 2019

Ad Denied? The Real Secret to Getting Your Ads Approved by Facebook


By Karrie Christen

Every month I speak to NSSF® retail and range members with whom I have never spoken before. I set this time aside so that I can learn more about their businesses, help with any marketing struggles they may be having, and better understand how to help members with the articles like this. The most common question I get during these conversations is this: “Why have my Facebook ads been denied? I thought I did everything right!”

Facebook’s current ad rules state that “Ads must not promote the sale or use of weapons, ammunition or explosives. This includes ads for weapon modification accessories.” However, you are allowed to promote blogs or groups connecting people with firearms-related interests (though those blogs and groups must not lead to the sale of Facebook’s “prohibited items”), safety courses for firearm training or licenses and books and videos about firearms safety.

There are several other considerations. The following may only be advertised to an audience 18 years old or over:

  • Mounted flashlights for firearms
  • Scopes and sights for firearms
  • Hunting, self-defense and military clothing, and gear such as targets and clay throwers
  • Holsters and belt accessories
  • Gun safes, mounts (including bipods), gun cases and slings
  • Equipment and protective clothing (including bullet-resistant vests)
  • Paint, coatings or wraps for firearms and magazines

Let’s say you’re advertising a safety class through Facebook, which is allowed, and yet your ad is still denied. This happens a lot, so let’s talk about the reasons this happens and how to fix it.

  1. Your Ad is Still Promoting the Use of Firearms

The No. 1 reason I see Facebook ads denied for firearms industry members is that they send the ad traffic from those ads directly to their website. The problem with that is that those websites promote the use and purchase of firearms or ammunition. In other words, Facebook considers the destination of the ad the same as the ad.

This is easily fixed by sending your Facebook ad traffic for that safety class to a separate and standalone webpage. This “landing page” is a single-page website whose only purpose is the same as the purpose of your Facebook ad. It cannot contain navigation links to all your website pages.

You can create such standalone sites on your own through WordPress.org or you can use an easy, all-in-one DIY landing page builder like ClickFunnels.

While you’re at it, it’s a smart idea to buy an additional domain name that relates to your business but doesn’t mention firearms for your landing pages. For example, if the ad is for a safety course, then your landing page should be only about that safety course. This webpage should deliver the sales message and give the visitor a way to sign up for that class. Keep it simple, keep your contact info at the center bottom of your landing page, and don’t link to your website promoting Facebook-prohibited items.

  1. It’s All About Your Images

The second most common reason Facebook ads are denied is because of an image or video. If the image can be considered either violent or a promotion of a Facebook-prohibited item, then your ad will be denied. This includes someone appearing to brandish a firearm and a perceived “act of violence” even if the subject matter is about self-protection.

With such restrictions, you’ll need to get creative in your messaging. Such an ad — without a firearm in the image — could be a photo of a woman holding a sign that says “Want to Be Safe? — Take a Class.”

Truly, you should avoid showing firearms in general in your ads. If you do, make sure nothing can be construed as brandishing, violence, or promotion of firearms use (yes, with a class on self-protection and concealed carry, that can be tricky), and be prepared to dispute the image because it will likely be auto-denied by Facebook.

  1. Your Linked Facebook Business Page Doesn’t Follow the Rules

The page linked to your ads should follow all the business page rules relating to Facebook’s community standards and regulated goods. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a retail FFL or range having a business page on Facebook, but it should not post content that “attempts to sell, gift, exchange or transfer firearms, firearms parts, ammunition or explosives” or “promote the sale or use of weapons, ammunition or explosives.” Facebooks Community Standards for Regulated Goods detail this more fully, but what this means is don’t talk about price, don’t ask people to buy, and don’t include your business’ contact info in individual posts (you can still have contact info on your Facebook business page).

Still Denied? You Have Options

If your ad is denied but you feel that you have followed all of Facebook’s ad rules, have a right to ask for a manual review through your Facebook Business Manager account. In your request, make it clear that you know its rules and that you followed all of them. Outline this if necessary: “This is Rule ‘A’ and nothing in my ad violates that.’ Then ask that Facebook reviews the ad and approve it.

About the Author
Karrie Christen is a veteran marketer with 23 years in the field. After seeing her parents’ business fail and the anguish it brought to her family emotionally and financially, she was driven to create a formula that attracts all the clients a business needs to thrive. That drive became The Client Attraction Formula, which provides inspiration, education and business development strategies to small businesses. Karrie has also teamed with FFL Consultants, a collaborative resource for FFLs with a goal of creating more compliant, safe, secure and profitable businesses.

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