225: The Easiest Way to Lower Your Facebook Costs for Personal Property Auctions
In July of 2019, Facebook changed its advertiser policies to align with federal anti-discrimination guidelines for employment, finance, and real estate. From that moment forward, we’ve not been able to target real estate ads toward people based on occupation, wealth categories, relationship status, education, and interests (like turkey hunting or riding equestrian). Our minimum geographic radius for real estate ads expanded to 15 miles to prevent using geography as a proxy for wealth or race.
Facebook Ads Manager debuted Special Ad Audiences, a system for building lookalike audiences for ads in these Special Ad Categories. Over the last 24 months, we’ve been able to replicate past Facebook interactors, past website (pixel) traffic, in-house lists, and even purchased lists. While we can’t target real estate as narrowly as we can personal property, I’ve found that with some extra time we can still get efficient traffic within these parameters.
For personal property ads, though, we bump into no such hurdles or restrictions. If we want to target people who like Ritchie Bros and Machinery Trader, operate an excavator, and purchase used items, we can still target them. If we want to target middle-aged men who like kayak fishing but not deep sea fishing, we can serve ads to that specific audience. If we want people who like estate sales, Antiques Roadshow, and barn finds, we can easily serve ads just to those people. If we want farmers who like John Deere and TractorHouse but not FFA and The Progressive Farmer, we can narrow that tightly.
I wouldn’t, but you can.
Well, you can if you put your personal property auction on web pages that don’t mention real estate.
See, Facebook’s automated approval system doesn’t check only the content of the ads. It also evaluates the content of the pages to which you’re sending people who click on your ads. First, it checks for items and services on Facebook’s list of prohibited advertising content. Then, it checks to see if any of the content would fall under a Special Ad Category: real estate, finance, employment, and now political topics. If any of those contexts apply, so do the restrictions that come with them. Those Special Ad Category restrictions hamper the efficacy and efficiency of personal property ads far more than they do real estate.
So, the easiest way to make personal property ads more efficient is to list personal property and real estate auctions separately on your website. Even without Facebook, this should be your standard practice. The buyer pool for personal property is almost always larger than the real estate where it’s housed. That’s true of farm equipment, commercial machinery, estate collections, and business liquidations. Yes, there’s a little overlap in prospect markets but not as much as you might think. The Venn diagrams look more like binoculars than Olympic rings.
Your Facebook ads should use their limited text space only for the content of interest to each targeted audience. Hopefully, you have separate email lists for real estate and personal property (if not subcategories beyond those two main headings). If you’ve sorted your bidder database by asset type, you can use variable data printing to send postcards with different emphases to different prospect pools. Sure, mention the real estate on the equipment version or vice versa; but give more space to what each list wants to see first.
The better you match the content of your advertising to a buyer’s interest, the more likely they are to visit your website. When they get to that website, you want them to see primarily what drew them in the first place. Anything less gives them cognitive dissonance and makes you look less professional. Facebook is just pushing us to best practices.
Let your competitors throw everything together as though an auction is just a community event. Let them cram everything into one ad or email or sign. On your auctions, market each asset category to its likely buyers—and then grin as you cash those bigger commission checks from more motivated bidders.
Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com