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Facebook ads – what the new updates mean for agents and how to avoid problems

Facebook ads – what the new updates mean for agents and how to avoid problems

by Steph Rady

Is Facebook giving you a headache? If you’re in the property sector, you’re not alone! From the Cambridge Analytica Scandal to Meta Business Suite, Facebook has evolved so much over the years but every update brings new challenges for advertisers.

Here at The ValPal Network, we delve into the most recent updates on Facebook, how they’re affecting estate agents, and what you can do to limit the risk of your account being restricted.

What are the updates?

Last year it was all about domain verification, but this year the property industry seems to be a direct target for the latest Facebook update: ‘Special Ad Category: Housing’. The special ad category was actually introduced in December 2021 - the rules were pretty clear: If you’re promoting a housing opportunity, you need to declare the advert as ‘Special Ad Category: Housing’ to prevent discrimination.

For the first 6 months or so, any advert that listed keywords such as house, property, landlord, rental, estate agent was flagged by the algorithm and “rejected” if it wasn’t listed as Special Ad Category - even if it was promoting a housing opportunity. This was a pain for most, but you could always jump onto Facebook Live Chat support, explain your case and 9 times out of 10, they would approve the adverts.

Over the last few months however, Facebook has made further updates to the algorithm and rules. The new rules for declaring ads under Special Ad Category are as follows:

“Housing: 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, housing repairs and home equity or appraisal services. This does not include ads designed to educate consumers or housing providers about their rights and responsibilities under fair housing laws. Learn more about what qualifies as an ad for housing under our policies.”

What are the problems?

The reason we as a marketing agency were so reluctant to use the Special Ad Category in the beginning is, it significantly affects your targeting options. To limit discrimination, once you declare Special Ad Category: Housing, you cannot touch the age range (default setting to 18-65+), you cannot add any detailed targeting options or exclusions (meaning you cannot fine tune your target audience), and possibly the worst option, you must target at least a 10 mile radius. For agents who cover a small patch in London for example, this can be a real issue.

The algorithm has also become stricter, and the rules have been updated to include mortgages and appraisal services, so there is no avoiding the Special Ad Category now. In fact, we along with other industry ads specialists such as Paul Long have experienced issues of completely compliant ad accounts being disabled, Business Manager accounts being restricted and more worryingly, Business Pages being permanently banned from advertising.

How to reduce your account’s risk

Our advice to anyone using Facebook ads for their business in the property sector is to follow all the rules to a tee. If you’re running any property ads whatsoever, declare them as Special Ad Category.

If you cover only a small patch and are concerned about the 10 mile minimum radius, we advise you mention the target area at every opportunity in the advert e.g. in the caption, the description and on the actual ad image/video. Call out to the people you’re targeting, and the algorithm should do the rest.

A few other tips that we’ve come across include:

  1. Having a clear out of your ad account – if you have old adverts from years ago in your account, we recommend having a tidy up as sometimes the algorithm can flag old non-compliant ads and reject them, putting a red mark against your account (even if they are turned not running).
  2. Reduce the number of admins on Business Manager – We’ve noticed that sometimes accounts are flagged for having too many admins on Business Manager, so recommend keeping this to maximum 5.
  3. Don’t use too many personal attributes in your adverts – Facebook seems to be flagging any mention of ‘you’, ‘your’ etc. so we recommend keeping ads a bit more general at least while the algorithm seems to be so strict.
  4. Boosting posts such as competitions/charity posts – We still recommend using special ad category as there’s a high chance the algorithm will flag you just for being an estate agent!
  5. Out of area leads and the 10 mile radius – Facebook’s algorithm is extremely sophisticated but even they can get it wrong sometimes. If you find during the first week most of your leads are out of your area, we recommend restarting the campaign or even running multiple adsets at once to help the algorithm learn to target your correct patch

We hope you found these tips useful and if you would like further information, our Head of Marketing Steph Rady and industry ads expert Paul Long will be hosting a webinar on this subject on Wednesday 12th October at 1pm. Click here to save your space!

In the meantime, if you need help with running Facebook adverts, reach out to Steph directly on: 0208 663 4940 or email steph.rady@angelsmedia.co.uk

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