While Facebook is still a dominant social media channel—and an important advertising tool for businesses trying to market their products and services—governmental scrutiny and charges of bias against its advertising platform have prompted the social network to change their policies and significantly limit how some industries, including senior living, reach their audiences.
Facebook announced they will no longer allow advertisers in the housing, employment and credit industries to use age, gender or zip codes to decide who will be able to see ads. For senior living communities, this means ads that may have previously been displayed to Facebook users over a certain age will now need to include all ages to stay compliant.
For years, we have worked with clients to create Facebook ads that help them reach their ideal audiences. The ads show up in viewers’ News Feeds alongside all the other posts and updates from friends and pages the user follows. What’s great about Facebook ads is that they can help senior living organizations reach the right audience to achieve certain goals, like brand awareness or scheduling a tour. They’re also a relatively low-cost way to effectively promote communities and easily measure the return on investment. Our blog post, “The Basics of a Successful Facebook Ad Campaign,” has even more details about how senior living communities benefit from using these ads.
While Facebook has been dealing with criticism about their ad platform for some time, the latest barrage of negative news came in March, when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development charged Facebook with violating the Fair Housing Act. HUD claims Facebook discriminates based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, gender and disability by allowing advertisers to restrict who can view housing-related ads on its platforms. Read HUD’s press release for full details on the charges.
Although the new policies about ad targeting haven’t fully taken effect, the number of ways ads can be delivered based on certain audience categories will change by the end of the year. Because senior living is part of the housing industry, these new policies will impact how senior living marketers promote communities.
What does this mean for senior living marketing now?
First, the updates are still forthcoming so changes to ad strategy is not necessary just yet. But Facebook has said specifically: “Anyone who wants to run housing, employment or credit ads will no longer be allowed to target by age, gender or zip code,” and there will be fewer categories overall for targeting audiences.
For now, senior living organizations can still create ad sets targeting groups for gender, age and zip code, though these demographics are not available in the “detailed targeting” options, where advertisers can set up specific rules to exclude or include Facebook users based on details from their profiles.
At Pivot, our team considers several audience characteristics to target Facebook ads. While age, gender and zip code are useful parameters, information about interests and behaviors ultimately shape the effectiveness of our targeting strategy. And we know Facebook’s demographic data isn’t the only way to drive quality engagement. Our team of social media experts know how to use special features like Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audience to drive conversions and grow quality traffic.
The dynamic nature of digital advertising means marketing agencies need to do more than just understand existing procedures to stay effective—they need to stay a step ahead.
We know digital advertising via Facebook and other channels will continue to evolve, which is why we constantly monitor and work with these platforms to ensure our clients’ objectives are being met in a fair and non-discriminatory way.
If you would like to learn more about how Facebook advertising may change, or how it may affect your digital ad campaigns, please give us a call at 303-499-9291 or email [email protected].