As of September 1, a new Facebook ad policy surrounding housing ads is in effect. Will these changes mean an end to real estate marketing on the social platform? Here’s what you need to know.
Facebook is no stranger to the limelight these days. From Cambridge Analytica and other confidence-shaking scandals to major changes to business pages, the only constant is … change. But this month’s new ad policies for special categories — including housing, employment, and credit — is set to have a major impact on real estate marketers.
To understand the changes and how they’ll impact marketers, we need to start from the beginning. On March 19, 2019, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), Communications Workers of America (CWA), and several regional fair housing organizations settled civil rights claims against Facebook. The NFHA and other organizations claimed that policies “unlawfully enabled advertisers to target housing, employment, and credit ads to Facebook users based on race, color, gender, age, national origin, family status, and disability.”
Changes from the settlement
The following rules are in place for housing (and employment and credit) ads as of September:
- Facebook will establish a separate advertising portal for creating housing, employment, and credit ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger that will have limited targeting options to prevent discrimination.
- Facebook now has a separate page where users can search and view all housing ads, regardless of whether users have received the housing ads in their News Feeds.
- All advertisers will be required to certify that they are complying with Facebook’s policies prohibiting discrimination.
- Facebook will no longer allow ZIP code targeting. All ads must have a minimum 15-mile radius of a specific location.
- Facebook’s Lookalike Audience tool will no longer consider gender, age, religion, location or Facebook groups.
What the new Facebook ad policy means for real estate marketers
Time to put on our thinking caps! While we believe real estate marketers weren’t intentionally discriminating against anyone, microtargeting has become a major asset in Facebook’s paid digital advertising. Microtargeting allowed real estate marketers to segment potential customers, helping decide who marketers should target and create personalized ads for those leads. Without the ability to microtarget audiences, real estate markets will have to shift their ad strategy.
A flicker of hope
There could actually be some benefits from these new policy changes for real estate marketers. Facebook is creating a new tool that allows users to search all housing ads for rentals or sales (or finance of housing or for real estate-related transactions, such as appraisals and insurance). This tool could help boost brand awareness by making ads more widely available to audiences and increase organic reach for brands.
The jury is still out
Though Facebook is still a powerhouse for digital marketers (don’t forget the platform has over 2 billion active monthly users), time will tell how these Facebook ad policy changes will impact real estate marketing. In an age when customers are demanding more personalized, custom content, off-target ads seem like a step in the wrong direction. Tick, tock.
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