Facebook has been in the news a lot lately, and not for the reasons most companies would want. Ranging from Freedom of Speech complaints to meddling in U.S. elections, Facebook has grown the reputation as a cesspool for hate speech and social injustices.
Facebook’s recent scrutiny is the result of the social media company’s rise to prominence in how people interact and do business.
Since Facebook is closely tied to how people communicate and receive information, watchdog groups and lobbyists have realized that the power of Facebook opens to the door to discriminatory advertising that can prohibit people from entering the housing, credit, and education opportunities.
The point about discriminatory advertising came full circle when ProPublica published a series of articles showcasing how Facebook advertising options allowed companies to target specific demographics with paid ads and other information.
Since these options allowed advertisers to exclude different groups of people, it will enable advertisers to use targeting options that violate laws barring discriminatory advertising.
As a result, Facebook faced legal action from civil rights groups. As part of their settlement, Facebook agreed to change how property managers use Facebook as part of their apartment marketing ideas by limiting how marketers target different groups based on the type of advertising like:
- Employment & Hiring Opportunities
- Long-Term Housing
- Credit Advertising
Image Source: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/298000447747885
The rationale behind this change in policy came because civil rights groups argued that these targeting options prohibited people from gaining access to credit for new housing, starting great careers, and even finding accommodation in their area.
How Facebook Marketing Changes Impact Apartment Marketers
Apartment advertising has changed in recent years. From the types of technology used to reach potential renters, to adapt to changing market and industry trends, property managers have had to learn how to make the most of current marketing trends and stay ahead of the curve.
According to Fair Housing laws, apartment managers are no longer able to use Paid Facebook marketing as they did in the past. Since apartments are in a Special Ad Category, real estate managers can’t use targeting options to reach potential renters like:
- Demographic Targeting
- Geographic Targeting
- Lookalike Audience Targeting
- Custom Audiences
These Facebook ad requirements for housing ads will have a significant impact on how you can advertise your apartment on Facebook. It is essential that you properly categorize and list your apartment when setting up Facebook housing ads, or else your ad account will be flagged for policy violations.
Main Takeaway: You won’t be able to target your ideal renters like you have in the past. Be sure to build engaging ad copy and use advanced tactics like Facebook remarketing to maximize your ad spend.
What Are The New Facebook Housing Ads Requirements?
If you are setting up a Facebook ad for real estate like a house or apartment, then you will be required to tag your announcement as a Special Ad Category. Even if you are not directly advertising your apartment or real estate services, like open houses, etc. you will need to identify your ad as the particular Housing Ad Category.
Along with the particular Housing Ad Category, Facebook will restrict target options at your disposal. These restrictions are meant to avoid discrimination against candidates on the basis of age, race, gender, and other protected segments.
These requirements have been in place since the Fair Housing Act of 1968, but the requirements were only put in place for Facebook ads recently.
One way Facebook advertisers can reach their desired audience is by only showing their ads to people who meet a specific demographic. Qualities like age, gender, and race are typically options marketers can choose from when setting up a Facebook campaign.
Still, since Fair Housing laws prohibit discrimination, you won’t be able to target people based on these segments.
There is no exception for this rule, and Facebook ad restrictions apply to all real estate and housing advertisements. The good news is that Facebook algorithms will try to find people who are qualified for your real estate property.
For example, while you can’t target only 55-year-olds for a senior living facility, you can put information in the ad so users can self-select based on their needs. This is one way to guide your ads toward the right audience and improve engagement and conversions.
Main Takeaway: Ads in Special Ad Category can’t include demographic targeting (age, race, or gender).
Property managers know the importance of targeting potential renters in a tight geographic area. In the past, apartment marketers used geographic targeting to match searchers with their property based on the needs and proximity to their property’s location.
Typically, Facebook marketers can choose zip codes and other granular targeting options, but this option was removed for ads in Special Ad Category to abide by HEC guidelines. Civil rights groups found that some advertisers used geographic targeting to exclude specific groups from seeing their property’s information, even though those excluded groups would take advantage of the housing options.
Today’s Facebook advertising guidelines require property managers to use at least a 15-mile radius geographic target around their property. This means that using a Traffic campaign objective can be more effective than using an Awareness campaign objective since you can narrow your focus and reach your desired audience.
Another tip that you can use for your Facebook advertising is to use first-party data to reach your potential renters. Adding a tracking pixel on your site and then using Facebook for remarketing is a great way to reach people who already showed interest in your brand.
You can also use first-party data and contact lists from your email marketing and CRM to target people from a specific part of town. You can build out a custom audience list using the select contacts, and customize your marketing message around your property and the needs of your audience.
Main Takeaway: The smallest geographic focus ads in Special Ad Category can target is a 15-mile radius.
While setting up a Facebook ad campaign, marketers are usually able to target their audience based on the interests of their ideal customers. This type of customization is great for most products, but HEC guidelines restrict property managers from excluding recipients based on race, gender, religious affiliation, and other segments.
You won’t be able to exclude an audience based on interests for any of your real estate properties, and your ability to target an audience based on interests has been limited. As a result, apartment marketers are only able to use broad interests that won’t narrow your audiences enough to have much impact on the performance of your campaign.
Facebook has an advanced algorithm that can help limit who your ads appear on the backend of the campaign. You can help Facebook show ads to qualified potential renters by choosing different options throughout the campaign objectives and set up stages. Make sure always to choose the right objective and install the Facebook pixel on your site to feed Facebook’s algorithm with lots of relevant information to help reach the right people at the right time with the right message.
Main Takeaway: While you can’t use Interest Targeting in Facebook ads, you can build ad copy and use images that speak to your potential renters. This is one approach to have renters pre-qualify themselves.
Lookalike Audiences are a powerful tool that marketers can use to reach people who are similar to existing customers. While this approach is an excellent way for most advertisers to qualify their ad targeting, property managers won’t be able to use Lookalike Audiences to their full effect.
Instead of traditional Lookalike Audiences, Facebook provides a Special Ad Audience to apartment marketers. This type of audience is similar to Lookalike Audiences, but the Facebook algorithm does not use sensitive groups to make the recommendation, like:
- Religious Affiliation
- Facebook Group Memberships
While not as influential as traditional Lookalike Audiences, Special Ad Audiences can help you narrow your audience while still abiding by Facebook’s ad policy. If you find your Special Ad Audiences list is not performing, you can combine this approach with other targeting options at your disposal to take more control of your Facebook ad spend.
Main Takeaway: Ads in the Special Housing Ad Category are not eligible for traditional Lookalike Audience lists, and require the use of Special Ad Audiences.
Most marketers utilize Custom Audiences when narrowing down their target audience with Facebook campaigns. This approach to Facebook optimizations allows advertisers the ability to combine different sources of data as a way to focus their Facebook marketing efforts.
The good news is that your ability to promote your apartment has not changed when it comes to Custom Audiences, and you can use information from the Facebook pixel and other first-party data to hone in on potential renters.
Property managers can get the most control over the Facebook advertising campaigns by targeting ideal renters through Custom Audiences. You should use this option to exclude data sources based on your property’s needs, and combine different targeting options through Customer Audiences to reach potential renters.
Main Takeaway: You are able to use Custom Audiences to target potential renters without much change or any violations to the HEC guidelines.
Think About The Landing Page
Now that we have a clear understanding of the technical side of Facebook guidelines for ads in the housing and apartment market let’s take a look at another area that can impact your apartment’s Facebook advertising campaigns.
A useful landing page is the backbone of any marketing campaign because it is the job of a landing page to convert your potential renters to tenants. However, while some property managers focus on the technical side of ads, they fail to optimize the landing page and ensure the page adheres to Facebook’s advertising guidelines.
Useful landing pages have clear next steps for readers like emailing the rental office, emailing the property manager, or schedule a tour.
Your Facebook campaign can get shut off if your landing page URL is not working or has a slow load time. Also, keep in mind that your real estate ads need to link to a landing page with specific information to tell Facebook that you offer real estate services. If you don’t make the connection between the ad and landing page clear enough, you can run the risk of violating HEC guidelines, and Facebook will shut the Facebook ad account down.
How To Run Housing & Apartment Ads On Facebook
Apartment marketing continues to change, and as a property manager, you need to stay ahead of industry changes. As Facebook updates its advertising options, you need to find a way to deliver quality ads to potential renters while also complying with Facebook’s ad policies.
It’s true that targeting options have decreased compared to previous years. However, the good news is that Facebook advertising guidelines still provide flexibility for you to grow your apartment advertising campaigns.
Most of the changes that Facebook policies implemented are meant to limit the ability of marketers to discriminate against groups of people. You can still target your ideal audience and get in front of potential renters by optimizing your campaigns, ad, and data sources to help Facebook’s algorithms deliver results based on the objective of your campaigns.
Your apartment ads should be created in a way that grabs the attention of your audience and helps your readers self-identify with your property. Driving clicks through the Facebook ads and leading your audience to a landing page that compels them to take action is the ultimate goal.