Can Adult Shops market themselves on Facebook? It’s a question that I get a lot from people in the business. Hi, my name is Francisco, and I am the owner of Planet Marketing, a Digital Marketing Agency. My company specializes in Google Ads, Facebook Ads and Remarketing. Over the years, I have done marketing for a lot of types of businesses. That includes businesses in the adult industry. Frankly, it’s one of the most challenging industries in which to operate as a marketer. There are so many minefields, making it difficult to find the right track. Today, I am going to answer the most common questions about advertising adult businesses on Facebook. This article is divided into the following sections;
Can Adult Shops Advertise on Facebook?
The Adult toys industry was valued at 26.6 billion dollars in 2020. So, clearly, there is a lot of business going on out there. But, are companies in the Adult industry allowed to advertise on Facebook?
The answer is, yes, adult shops can advertise on Facebook, but they are very much curtailed in what they can do! One could say, about the nature of the relationship between Facebook and businesses in Adult toys industry, that "it’s complicated."
Clearly, Facebook is not very comfortable having adult products and service promoted on the platform. Below is a quote of their advertising policies regarding the issue;
Ads must not promote the sale or use of adult products or services, except for ads for family planning and contraception. Ads for contraceptives must focus on the contraceptive features of the product, and not on sexual pleasure or sexual enhancement, and must be targeted to people 18 years or older.
It appears, based on the above, that Facebook does not wish to mix business with pleasure, so to speak. They allow ads relating to family planning and contraception. Beyond that, you will be treading on murky ground. Below we summarize the basic facts about doing Facebook Ads marketing for adult shops;
- Adult shops can advertise on Facebook only if they are talking about products relating to family planning and contraception.
- Adult shops cannot market products relating to pleasure.
- Even for contraceptive and family planning products, no mention should be made of pleasure or enjoyment.
- Ads relating to adult products must be targeted at people who are over 18.
- You cannot market sex toys using Facebook ads. That’s because sex toys are pleasurable devices. And Facebook expressly prohibits sexual pleasure in ads for adult products.
How to circumvent these terms and conditions
Clearly, Facebook is strict when it comes to what businesses in the adult industry can and cannot do. But are there ways through which to get around these strict guidelines? The good news is that yes, there are a few ways through which you can remain in Facebook’s good graces while advertising your adult products on the platform;
1. Stick to the guidelines
The first option is to stick to Facebook’s guidelines. We have already given those above. You can market products relating to contraceptives and family planning. But you cannot talk about the pleasure that people will get while using your products.
2. Make sure that your images are compliant
Most businesses in the industry fall prey to Facebook’s censorship due to the nature of the images and videos that they use in their ads. Suggestive or sensual promotional material is frowned up.
This applies even for fully clothed people posing in a posture that suggests nudity and sensuality. It’s better to use a blank image while covering the ad with text that falls within guidelines.
3. Be educational
That’s another good way of ensuring that you are complying with Facebook’s terms and conditions. Create content that’s educational as opposed to be for sexual gratification.
Surely there are a number of things that you can teach people regarding their sexual well being? Cover those areas and be subtle as is possible in your copy.
4. Complement your Facebook Ads with email
That’s another ways of circumventing the various pitfalls that were placed by Facebook on ads for Adult Shops. Yes, you need to be severely guided when doing Facebook ads for the industry. But Facebook does not monitor your email. So, you can use the platform as the place to grow your mailing list. Stay within the accepted guidelines and get people to leave their contact details.
You can then use your mailing list to send out promotional materials to your Facebook leads. Needless to say you can be as clear as you wish to be in your email marketing copy. You are never going to fall afoul of Facebook that way. Check out these 5 email marketing automation tools for eCommerce. These tools can be useful for all your email marketing requirements.
Here is any example; why not create a reproductive health newsletter? That will, hopefully, be in line with Facebook’s guidelines. Hopefully because there is never a way of knowing exactly what Facebook wants. Anyway, you can, as sedately as is possible, market this newsletter on Facebook. Get people to sign up to receive weekly tips on how to stay healthy. Once you have collected people’s emails, you can then promote some of the products in your Adult shop via email.
5. Get it right on the terminology
Terminology is important when advertising sexual products on Facebook. We have already noted that “pleasure” is proscribed. Talk about vaginas and other reproductive organs is also prohibited. Use those works and you will most likely trigger Facebook’s big brother algorithms. So, what can you talk about? One company mentions that it can talk about “female wellness" and "male wellness.”
Creating Facebook Ads for Adult Shops
Hopefully I have clarified some of the impediments surrounding advertising adult products on Facebook. Yes, the task is difficult, but it can be done. You just need to know what’s allowed and what’s disallowed.
In this section, we are going to take a look at the technical details of doing Facebook Ads marketing. Where do you even start? How do you create your first Facebook Ad? Well, Facebook Ads are created in Ads Manager. The process of creating them has 3 basic steps;
- Choosing a Campaign Objective
- Setting up your Target Audience
- Creating your Ad
Choosing a Campaign Objective
In adds Manager, the first thing that you need to do after hitting the “Create,” button is to choose a Campaign Objective. Campaign Objectives are guidelines of what you hope to achieve with your Facebook Ads.
You basically have 11 Campaign Objectives from which you can only have one for each advertising Campaign. The following are the available Facebook Ads Campaign Objectives;
- Brand awareness
- Lead generation
- Store traffic
- Catalog sales
- App installs
- Video views
Which Campaign Objective should I choose when creating Facebook Ads for Adult Shops?
The Campaign Objective that you choose in this case needs to keep in mind the restrictions that surround this particular industry when it comes to advertising on Facebook. As an example, Video views will probably not do. If you try to show videos of the products in your catalog, your ad will be blocked.
All is not lost however. You could, as an example, go with Traffic as your campaign objective. That way, you can take people from a sedate Facebook ad to a landing page on your own website where you are free to fully market your products. That’s the Campaign Objective that we are going to go for in this example.
Setting up your Target Audience in the Ad Set
This is the next step when doing Facebook Ads Marketing for Adult shops. Getting it right in terms of audience targeting is important when advertising any business on Facebook. The platform has over 2.7 monthly active users, making it a goldmine for businesses large and small.
However, it can be difficult to reach out to the right kind of people. These over 2 billion people are scattered around the world. And they come from various demographics and have seemingly a billion interests and behaviors.
So, how do you reach out to them? And how do you do it in such a way that your ads won’t get banned by Facebook? The good news is that Facebook provides you with a number of tools that you can use to reach out to the right kind of audience when advertising on the platform;
Age is of particular importance in this particular case. Any ads that relate to sexuality need to be directed at people over 18. Otherwise they won’t be allowed to run. With Facebook ads, you can set the age ranges within which you wish to have your ads delivered.
For this example, we will have our ads delivered to people between 18 and 55. Who you target can be variable depending on the products that you wish to market. Perhaps you wish to reach out to people over 55. Or maybe you want to have your ads delivered to over 45s. Whatever the requirement, use the age setting to reach out to the right audience.
In the Ad Set, Gender is another tool that you can use to define your target audience. This can be another useful setting, particularly for this example. Perhaps you wish to only reach women with your ad. The gender setting let’s you decide the gender of those to whom your Facebook ad will be shown.
Again, this is a useful setting that you can use to define your target audience when creating Facebook Ads for Adult Shops. Where do you wish to have your ads delivered? Note that different countries have different restrictions on advertising sexual content.
That’s probably the reason why Facebook has placed so many restrictions on the industry. For this example, we are going to restrict distribution of our Facebook Ads to the United States. We will target people living there. We don't particularly care for those that have recently visited the United States.
You can target as many locations as you wish. But it won’t help you to target a location where your products are not allowed. Many countries are conservative. So, those are restrictions within which you are going to have learn how to navigate.
This setting probably does not have any bearing in this particular case. However, it can be useful for businesses that wish to have their ads delivered only to people who speak a particular language.
Now we get to the Detailed Targeting section. It’s where we really narrow down on the people whom we wish to reach with the Facebook Ads that we are creating for our Adult Shops. Again, you need to remember that you are treading the thin fine line of Facebook Advertising rules here.
The Detailed Targeting section uses Demographics, Interests and Behaviors to help advertiser narrow down on the people that they wish to reach with their ads. For this example, we are going to reach out to the following people;
- Those interested in pages relating to contraception.
- Those interested on issues relating to family planning.
- People who are interested in health and fitness.
Let’s say that you run a Facebook Page that has somewhat stayed within the rules. You can then use this to define the people who you wish to target. Your connections can be people who have liked your Page or pages that are related to yours.
They could also be people who have taken part in an Event, assuming that Adult Shops can run ones that are not banned by Facebook. The aim here is to further zoom in on your target audience.
Your connections are people who already know about your brand. They are not complete strangers. That can be useful as far as converting them is concerned.
Budget and Schedule
Your Budget and Schedule are things that you need to think about when creating Facebook Ads for any business. Most people are worried that advertising on Facebook is going to leave them broke or something.
However, truth of the matter is that Facebook Marketing is a lot more affordable than the options. You can start creating an Ad on Facebook for as little as $5. It all depends on what it is that you wish to achieve. If you choose Brand awareness as your Campaign Objective, you could conceivably go even lower than that. And you will still reach enough people to make the investment worthwhile.
One thing to note is that you need to retain control of your advertising spending. Facebook keeps your credit card details on file. They deduct money from there for as long as the ad is running. Now if you forget to turn off delivery of your ads, you could end up spending a lot more than planned.
To get around this, you need to set start and end dates for your ads. As an example, you can set your ads to run for a week, as you can see in the above screenshot. That way, you will know exactly how much you are going to spend at the end of the Campaign.
There won’t be surprises. From there, you can choose whether or not to continue with the Campaign. You may need to play around with your settings and ad till you have hit the correct formula. That’s the beauty of Facebook Ads; you can do a lot of experimentation.
Creating the Ad
Now we come to the last part of this rather difficult topic. Difficult because, as already noted, Facebook places a lot of restrictions on what Adult Shops can do in terms of advertising on the platform.
That’s something that you need to keep in mind when it comes to creating the ad itself. Again, you don’t want to do something that can trigger a ban for your ad. The following are some of the areas that you need to work on.
Facebook allows three ad formats; single image, video and carousel. So, which one should you go for when creating ads for adult shops?
Well, I have already noted that videos are probably out. The same applies for images that display the items that you sell in your shop. In fact, sexual content of any type should be kept away from your ad.
The Primary Text appears on top of your ad. Remember to make your ad copy about family planning and contraception.
Facebook gives the example of condoms that can be advertised by saying; "Practice safe sex with our brand of condoms,” or "Free condoms at your local student health center."
Your landing page
Your landing page is not part of the process of creating your ad on Facebook. You do it away from Facebook, but it's important.
If, as we decided here, we are going to have people directed from Facebook to our landing page through the Traffic Campaign Objective, then we need to make sure that the leads that land on our landing page are converted. To do that, you need to have a specially designed landing page that’s in sync with your ad(s).
That’s how to create Facebook Ads for Adult Shops. Clearly, the task is not easy. But don’t worry. If you need help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I will create Facebook Ads for your adult store that meet Facebook’s guidelines.
Facebook marketing is what I do on a daily basis. So, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. Also feel free to sign up for my Facebook Ads Mini Course if you wish to learn more about marketing on the world’s biggest social networking platform.