Social advertising can be a cost-effective way to spread the word about a product or service to the people who are most likely to be interested in hearing your message.
But what happens when the very genius of social advertising — the practice of targeting certain audiences on specific networks based on demographic information — has the potential to be its downfall?
Apartment marketers, property managers and anyone who works in the multifamily space are required to follow the Fair Housing Act, which was passed in 1968 to limit discriminatory practices related to landlords, tenants and housing.
The guiding principle is that every American should have an equal opportunity to search for a place to live without fear of discrimination based on race, disability, familial status, national origin, religion or gender.
In order to help apartment marketers comply with the Fair Housing Act as well as reap the benefits of apartment social advertising on its platform, Facebook has a new built-in safeguard against potentially discriminatory targeting.
Facebook’s Special Ad Categories
Ads for items like shoes and electronic devices can be targeted based on the seller’s idea of who would most likely be interested in their products. Advertisers can select the age range of the people they’d like to target, as well as zip code, gender and other data.
But the Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to target specific demographics when it comes to ads relating to housing, employment or credit opportunities.
In order to comply with the law, Facebook announced in September 2019 that there would be special ad categories relating to housing, employment or credit opportunities. Apartment advertisers must select the corresponding Special Ad Category in Ads Manager or the ads will not be able to run.
These ad categories target audiences in different, more inclusive ways, including online behavior and activity rather than demographic information.
Apartment marketers can also choose to include an Equal Opportunity Housing logo or slogan on their apartment social ads, which goes the extra mile to show potential residents that your apartment community does not discriminate.
The ad experience on Facebook is meant to be personalized, but it becomes an issue when only specific groups see certain ads. In switching to this new approach, Facebook can better ensure that apartment marketers are in compliance with the law and the platform isn’t being used improperly.