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How Long is Too Long for an Ad Pending Approval?

James Parsons • Updated on May 28, 2015
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Any Minute

Running a Facebook ads campaign for the first time can be exhilarating. It can be heartbreaking. It can be tedious, and it can be full of suspense. It’s all because of the ads approval process which, before you get it down, is sort of like gambling. You do what you can to stay within the ad guidelines, but you never know if you’ve violated something. You just have to wait for Facebook to review your ad and let you know whether or not it’s acceptable.

This process can take a while. Some ads are approved within five minutes of submission. Others can take days. There’s no rhyme or reason to it; it’s just a matter of how quickly Facebook’s algorithm can scan your ads and how quickly their review teams can process them.

In that sense, it’s almost like going through the traditional stages of grief, waiting and agonizing over your ads. That’s why so many experienced marketers set up their ads weeks in advance; so they can fire them off to the review board and ignore them for a few days, stress-free.

Several Minutes After Submission

Several Minutes

Immediately after submission is the golden period, the cooldown, and the most anxiety of any time between submission and response. During this time, it’s entirely possible that Facebook will approve your ad, mere minutes after you sent it their way. There’s no rhyme or reason to them, but you can consider some data.

AdEspresso, for example, recorded that their ads, when published between 11am and 11pm Eastern Standard Time, tended to approve faster than other times. This is, unfortunately, not very useful data. Rephrase it, and you basically have “Ads approve faster when you submit during business hours on a business day.” Submitting on a Friday afternoon or during a weekend is obviously going to increase approval time.

An Hour After Submission

Once you’ve refreshed the page a few times, typically you take off and do something else for an hour. Then, if you’re in a hurry, curious, or fixated, you’ll go back and refresh the page again. Maybe you wrote part of a blog post, coded a bit of a plugin or made a business call. Who knows! The fact is, you came back to check.

At this point, it’s more likely your ad was approved than it is in the first few minutes. However, it’s still pretty unlikely. Ads approved at this point tend to be variations of existing ads or edits to existing ads; you know, the stuff Facebook can clear through quickly. Brand new ads, particularly to new destinations or from new ad accounts, take longer to approve.

Several Hours After Submission

At this point, you’ve waited an entire afternoon. Or, if you submitted them in the afternoon, you’ve come in the next morning to check on them. Have they been approved or not?

The majority of ads are approved during this phase. Facebook claims that it only takes around 15 minutes on average, but most marketers know this is pretty much a lie. You can usually expect approval within 6-12 hours. It’s only when you get beyond this point that you might want to start worrying.

12 hours After Submission

That’s not to say I’m telling you to worry. I just know you probably are, if 12 hours pass and your ads aren’t approved. Why might they be in limbo this long?

Again, ads for new sites, from new accounts, and with new payment methods tend to take longer. Facebook wants to verify that the site is valid, that the payment method works, and that you’re not a duplicate account by someone who was previously banned from advertising.

24 Hours After Submission

Pending Payment

Once a full day has passed, you’re probably searching Google, the Facebook support forums and other resources for reasons your ad might be stuck in limbo. You’ve probably encountered conspiracy theories about ad spend and priority approval. Sure, maybe a company like Coke has a dedicated ad rep to approve their ads quickly, but the vast majority of businesses have to deal with the same delays and pitfalls as everyone else.

48 Hours After Submission

Contact Facebook Ads

Once two full days have passed, if your ad is not approved and not rejected, you might consider contacting Facebook support or editing and resubmitting the ad. However, before you do, check for one of these situations.

  • Did you submit late on a Friday or during the weekend? If so, it might take longer to approve your ads.
  • Did you submit just before a major holiday? If so, it might take longer to approve your ads.
  • Is your ad actually approved, but not running, due to the ad, ad set, or ad campaign being turned off?
  • Was your ad rejected and the rejection message sent to your spam folder?

If your ad is legitimately still in limbo after two business days, feel free to contact support.

A Look At Rejection Reasons

There are a number of reasons your ads might have been rejected, or are flagged for more manual approval. For example, if you’re using sex appeal in your ad image, it will require close review to satisfy the reviewer that you’re within legitimate boundaries. The same goes for anything with implied or explicit violence in the image.

Another rejection reason would be if the site you’re linking to is against the terms of service for Facebook. Certain services, including pharmacies, gambling and dating services, are subject to approval or denial outright depending on the service. Expect a longer review process.

Overall, any time it takes longer than two days for your ad to approve is a time you might consider contacting Facebook support. Ideally, you will do this before trying to resubmit the ad, because you don’t want to start the whole process over if your ad is almost approved. However, Facebook support is notoriously fickle and unable to help in many cases, so I wouldn’t blame you for trying to avoid a glitch by editing your ad and putting back in the queue. It might not be effective, but if it makes you feel better, so be it.


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