Facebook is an invaluable tool for many real estate agents and mortgage lenders these days (as well as other related fields), and that includes lead generation with Facebook ads.
But the social media giant made some profound changes recently, deeply impacting the ability to target ads based on specific demographics and characteristics.
It all started with discrimination complaints leveled against the social media giant, claiming that its ad practices were rife with discrimination.
So, back in March of 2019, Facebook reached a settlement, announcing that it would close the door on ads that allowed discrimination and led to redlining. Working with the National Fair Housing Alliance, American Civil Liberties Union, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Communication Workers of America, they did just that. A few months ago, Facebook rolled out a major update to its ad protocols, specifically in the real estate and mortgage industry.
Here’s what you need to know about the new Facebook ad rules:
In an official statement, Facebook said, "We're committed to protecting people from discrimination on Facebook, and as part of this commitment, we announced changes earlier this year to all ads that offer housing, employment, and credit opportunities. Advertisers, developers and partners must specify whether or not their ads fall under either the category of housing, employment or credit. They can do so by selecting a Special Ad Category, and once a category is selected in Ads Manager or via the Marketing API, a limited set of targeting options will then be available."
The real difference comes when you’re setting up the targeting for these ads. Once you check the box for the Special Ads Category, you can no longer target by:
(Only 18 years+)
(Must be both men and women)
No mentions of alcohol (like if you have a wine and cheese open house, that would be illegal with the new Facebook rules since your age targeting must be set at 18+, not 21+.)
No Zip Code search
You cannot target by specific zip codes (see below)
No radius search smaller than 15 miles
You also can't set your radius search for targeting at less than 15 miles. That's a significant change since a common ad tactic was to set a radius of one or two miles around an open house or listing.) But you can do a radius search around 15 miles or more around a pin drop or address.
No Look-Alike Audiences
You also can no longer target an ad based on Look-Alike Audiences like you used to be able to do with Facebook. (You also can’t get around all of these changes just by using a saved audience.)
Say goodbye to other demos and behaviors
You can no longer target by life events like recently married, just moved, bought a home, if they’re parents, their income, etc. or other behaviors. But you can target by interests.
You also can’t exclude certain demographics, like other real estate agents, Realtors, brokers, etc. Basically, we can’t exclude anyone for any reason.
Running ads in the U.S. from outside the country
Advertisers and marketers who are located outside the U.S. but running ads in U.S. markets need to click the special ads category as well, even if their ads aren’t in Housing, Credit, or Employment. (I’m sure that FB ads to interfere with our elections played a large part in that restriction!)
Should you still use Facebook ads for your real estate or home loan business?
While it may seem that you don’t have much left to target your Facebook ads effectively, remember that the Facebook algorithm is incredibly thorough, as well as dynamic and “smart.” In fact, their algorithm takes more than 2,000 factors into account when placing your ads, so there’s a lot going on behind the scenes to make them more efficient.
You can set up a Special Ad Audience, which is based on similar characteristics to an existing email list, website audience using Pixels, Facebook page followers, and more.
Remember that every time one of these changes takes place on Facebook, it may be a little harder to target your audience correctly, but a large percentage of real estate agents and mortgage lenders will stop using Facebook ads because they believe it's too difficult, time-consuming, or ineffective.
That equals opportunity.
I’ll cover more tips on setting up effective Facebook ads in a different blog soon. But, in the end, it will probably all level out, and Facebook will still be a great place to run ads for real estate agents, mortgage lenders, and professionals in financial service fields.
Need any help or just want to talk about your marketing? Hit me up!