Handcuffed Auctions?

211: Will Facebook Handcuff Your Real Estate Advertising?

Last week, Facebook released its new advertising restrictions for residential real estate. This applies only for residential properties and will not impact land, commercial, or industrial properties. It will probably affect farms and recreational properties but only for ads showing or mentioning a residence. As you can see in the screen capture below, marketers can no longer:
• target geographically in less than a 15-mile radius
• limit age of audience in any way
• use lookalike audiences
• use past saved audiences

The greatest lost for my clients will be the lookalike audience. Auction marketers will not be able to replicate a list of past bidders, a purchased list of people based on specific qualifications, or the traffic visiting an auction. All of these are now considered discriminatory practices by Facebook thanks to the influence of legislators, judges, pundits, and possibly plaintiffs. (Google will likely follow Facebook’s lead because of these factors.)

This will radically impact how residential real estate advertising can be targeted and may significantly change your cost per click and cost per landing page view. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to handcuff you. Here are three ways to adapt to this change to gain a competitive edge over those who don’t.

Don’t Panic.

Most residential real estate is bought by someone local. In my weekly experience with residential real estate auctions on Facebook, my untargeted ads to just anyone living within a radius regularly outperform most of my targeted ads. At some point, Facebook will disallow any uploaded list and maybe even people who like your Facebook page. Until that day, take advantage of the options still on the table.

Buy Bigger Lists.

Advertisers are still allowed to purchase lists, upload them, and have Facebook match as many of the people on the list as possible. So, you can still target people who own specific amounts of acreage, people with certain wealth criteria, and people who work in industries related to real estate (developers, builders, real estate investment trusts, etc.). Now, instead of buying a small list and having Facebook multiply the lookalikes, you might need to buy bigger lists. So, your Facebook budgets will need to reflect that cost. Before uploading those lists to Facebook, remove all columns except first name, last name, city, state, zip, phone number, and email address. Facebook is scanning the lists for discriminatory information. Also, several data brokerage companies offer a service to create lookalike lists of your in-house lists for a fee.

Write Targeted Copy.

Since certain buyer pools are off the table from an audience perspective, use the advertising text that appeals only to your intended recipients of each ad. You can still write to investors, brokers, and end users. (See a residential real estate example of this here.) Facebook’s new text limit will require succinct writing, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Thankfully, all of your competition has to play by the same rules. So, learning how to play within them can give you a leg up on other auction and real estate companies. Even with these restrictions, Facebook will continue to be more efficient than newsprint and direct mail—and probably television, radio, and web banner ads, too. The sky isn’t falling. It’s just a little more likely to rain on your parade.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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