Ad buyers have a lot of gripes about Facebook’s ad platform, but it still reigns supreme because it offers targeting and efficiency buyers say they can’t find elsewhere. But for ad buyers that temporarily lose access to it, the biggest problem might be how disconnected its sales, support and product teams are. One media buyer, who buys media for his e-commerce business as well as for other brands, discovered recently that his account was disabled and access to advertising tools revoked and has been unable to speak to a human about the issue.
In the latest edition of our Confessions series, in which we trade anonymity for honesty, we hear from the buyer who details how difficult it is to navigate Facebook’s support team. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
You’ve been having trouble running ads on Facebook. Tell us about that.
I’ve been running ads for seven or eight years. I’ve run ads for fashion companies, my own companies and spent multiple millions of dollars on Facebook ads. This year, I got disabled. I wasn’t running ads at the time. I thought it was done in error. I submitted an appeal and got an instant response that it was final. The next day, I got an alert that not only was that account disabled but I’d lost access to all advertising tools. It’s been a while since that happened. It’s a bummer, considering I make my living through running Facebook ads for other people and/or managing some of our ads for our company.
What have you done to try and fix the issue?
I have some friends at Facebook that I’ve reached out to and asked about it, but that hasn’t been much help. Other than that, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten a human reply. Their live chat is kind of a joke. It’s just a person who responds back to you and links you to their support forms. They don’t have access to do anything on behalf of you. They can just tell you where to find information. If you already have the links, it’s a dead end. Also, when you’re disabled, you’re not able to submit appeals anymore.
You said Facebook support isn’t helpful. Can you elaborate?
Their support team doesn’t talk to salespeople which doesn’t talk to the policy and compliance teams. All of that makes Facebook’s support a black box and a shit show. If you have an ad rep and you’re spending enough money, it doesn’t matter. You can send a text and all of a sudden you have your stuff fixed and it’s restored within five minutes. If you’re not spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month [you don’t get that kind of response]. Also, during this whole process, I’m still getting calls from Facebook marketing experts like, “Hey, Q4 is around the corner. It would be really nice to increase your budgets.” I’m like, “This is the third time you’ve called me in seven days and I haven’t had ad access. I would love to spend some money, but I can’t.” They still call me, and I also get automated emails from Facebook for an advertising account that’s disabled and linked to a profile that’s unable to use advertising tools.
What would you like them to do?
All I’m trying to do is get in touch with a human to understand why I was disabled in the first place. I believe it was in error, but if I did something I’d like to know what I did so I can not do that again. But if this is a final decision, maybe the internal team should share that so their products aren’t sending automated emails or suggesting people who are banned or disable to try new things. They should talk to each other, but none of them do. Facebook support is like going to the DMV.
This is a problem specific to your account. Have you heard of other people dealing with similar situations?
I know it’s not just me. There are Facebook ad buyer groups and media buyer groups where people are also confused about if they’ve gotten banned in error, if it’s automated or if it’s scrutiny in the media or if they’re trying to tighten the grip. And I follow a lot of the media buyers on Twitter, and they have similar issues. I don’t have a lot of faith in getting my account back. I don’t know what the next steps are. Do I get a new IP address? New credit card? New legal entity? New Facebook profile? All just to run Facebook ads. If there’s any relationship to the future account, entity, Facebook address could be instantly revoked if the account is somehow connected with your old one. That’s what one of the reps from Facebook suggested to me: “In the meantime, if you want to spend money for Q4, I would suggest making a new profile.” You work at Facebook, and you’re suggesting that I make a new profile?
Do you think it’s scalable for them to have more human contact?
It’s hard to scale it, for sure. At the same time, if it’s hard scale [how do you have] marketing reps calling people five times in a row while they’re banned? Obviously they can scale trying to get me to spend money. I can’t spend money. I would’ve already been spending money on the first call. You’ve wasted their time and mine. Equip the marketing experts, the people who are doing the outreach with the same level of elevated access or permissions as someone on the policy team. Or have them looped in immediately [on the shutdown of an account] so they’re not wasting their time.
With all of the trouble you’re having on Facebook, have you considered other channels?
We have, but Facebook has been the best way to target people and the best solution. It’s where we’ve spent the majority of our marketing budget over the last year, about 85%. Twitter doesn’t really have the optimization tools or the targeting tools. At least, they aren’t as sophisticated. Every time we’ve tried there, it’s just been a massive waste. Within Google, we tried recently and the CPC was just so high. It’s like $30 a click, whereas we’re paying $2 or $3 a click, for example, on Facebook. It’s just not feasible.