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Facebook Ad Changes for Real Estate: What Agents and Brokers Need to Know

March 27 2019

sidx facebook ad changes for real estateFacebook is removing age, gender and ZIP Code targeting for housing, employment, and credit-related ads. It will also impose a 15-mile minimum radius for geographic ad targeting for housing ads.

The Facebook ad platform offers an unrivaled rich, diverse, and deep level of ad targeting options no other advertising platform can provide. These changes will not impact those agents and brokers that have been effectively using them to date and may reduce blatant discrimination.

Why are ads on Facebook are so valuable?

According to a recent study by Mediakix, the average person spends 35 minutes per day on Facebook, giving agents and brokers the opportunity to put their ads in front of the right people. For years, Facebook has allowed advertisers to target potential customers based on their demographics and interests, including a treasure chest of data collected across Facebook properties (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.).

Facebook and Instagram are visual by nature, just like real estate, and the ad targeting options allow advertisers to reach the exact market they want to such as first-time home buyers, just married buyers, wealthy coastal retirees, etc. To quote Uncle Ben from Spider-Man, "With great power comes great responsibility."

Why did Facebook make the change to ad targeting for real estate?

There were accusations that landlords, lenders, and employers used Facebook to discriminate, a significant shift for a company that built a business empire on selling personal data. Facebook's ad practices came under scrutiny after ProPublica published a series of articles showing how targeting options are used discriminate.

Facebook began to look at the potential misuse and then several groups filed lawsuits. This week, Facebook announced their decision as part of a settlement of five lawsuits filed by the National Fair Housing Alliance and other plaintiffs, which will also include just under $5 million in payments, according to the Wall Street Journal.

What's changing for real estate ads on Facebook?

Facebook will be rolling out a complete overhaul to their ad targeting options for housing, loans, and jobs to remove many of the targeting options to prevent people and companies from discriminating against protected classes.

They have already announced that they will remove the ability to target based on age, gender, ZIP Code and for radiuses less than 15 miles. The removal of targeting based on Zip Codes may create some extra work, but most successful real estate pros that used Zip Codes were targeting much larger areas and simply uploading lists of many Zip Codes.

If you were targeting based on a list of Zip Codes, you'll need to rebuild your Facebook audiences and targeting for larger areas (e.g., counties, DMAs, map radiuses of more than 15 miles, etc).

Facebook says it will also build a tool that can be used to view targeted housing ads, a move similar to a database the company built after controversy over targeted political ads.

When will the changes take effect?

The changes on Facebook will roll out by the end of the year. Expect other ad platforms, like Google and Amazon, to make similar changes this year as well.

What's the impact for agents and brokers?

Most Realtors and brokers will not see any impact from these changes. While it may create a little more work for those that used Zip Codes, your goals and ROI will be similar.

Overall, this is a win for fairness in housing. It is also a reminder to agents that advertising and social networks can (and will) change at any time. One of the most valuable assets you have is your personal brand. Make sure you have a strong website as the hub of your online presence and these changes will have a smaller impact on you in the future.

Have you started using Facebook ads to drive traffic to your website or individual listings? What's your experience been?

To view the original article, visit the Showcase IDX blog.