The Fair Housing Act is a big deal. Born in 1968, it protects all people in the United States from discrimination in all facets of private and public housing. Fair, certainly, but when it comes to highly-targeted social ads, it can be difficult to know where to draw the line. Facebook learned the hard way, and after receiving a discrimination charge from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, they’ve had to course-correct some of the publicly-available targeting options for real estate advertisers.
Before we explore the changes Facebook has made to remain compliant with Fair Housing, let’s first agree on who the changes are impacting. While it may seem obvious, it’s important to understand how Facebook actually defines real estate advertising. The social giant now refers to it as a Special Ad Category titled “Housing Opportunity or Related Service.” According to Facebook, “Housing Opportunity or Related Service” is defined as “ads that promote or directly link to a housing opportunity or related service, including but not limited to listings for the sale or rental of a home or apartment, homeowners insurance, mortgage insurance, mortgage loans, and home equity or appraisal services”.
According to the Fair Housing Act, it is unlawful to publish advertisements in any media or outlet “that indicate a preference, limitation, or discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin.” But our society has changed dramatically since 1968, including how we advertise for the greatest impact. This shift to highly-targeted social advertising spurred the Department of Housing and Urban Development together with Facebook to release new advertising policies for all real estate campaigns across the Facebook family of apps to ensure equal treatment among those searching for housing.
Specific to real estate advertising, Facebook has banned the following targeting parameters:
- Age & Gender targeting
- The following Location Types: Zip Codes, Subcities, Neighborhoods, Metro Areas / DMAs, and Electoral Districts.
- Radius of less than 15 miles around Cities or Addresses
- Location Exclusion targeting
- Interest Exclusion targeting
- Demographics and Behavior targeting
- Use of Lookalike Audiences (which have been replaced by the newly-created Audiences for Special Ad Categories)
Besides the inability to select those targeting options, Facebook also requires real estate advertisers to designate that they are advertising a housing-related ad and certify they will comply with Facebook policies.
Our expertise and dedication in the Real Estate advertising sphere and our close relationship with Facebook has given us a leg up in understanding the requirements so we can help ensure agents aren’t able to (inadvertently or otherwise) skew their advertising too much into, or out of, certain geographic areas. Tiger Pistol proactively rolled out these diminished targeting guidelines in our advertising prior to the deadline to stay ahead of the curve. In partnership with Facebook, we’re continuously evolving to ensure our clients’ agents are in compliance with Facebook Advertising rules and regulations when it comes to advertising real estate, optimizing our Platform so that Real Estate ads published via Tiger Pistol comply with Facebook’s policies.