On August 26, 2019, Facebook officially launched its Special Ads Category update to “help prevent discrimination in ads that offer housing, employment and credit opportunities.”
Unfortunately, these changes have dramatically shifted Facebook Advertising efforts if you fall under one of these three categories, making it extremely difficult to target audiences you once were.
The Special Ads Category especially affects one industry we specialize in—senior living—so we’ve compiled some frequently asked questions and strategy recommendations related to senior living marketing under the new rules.
What does Facebook’s Special Ad Category do?
According to Facebook, the Special Ads Category is set up to prevent discrimination in Facebook Ads. They worked closely with the National Fair Housing Alliance, American Civil Liberties Union and the Communication Workers of America to help establish these guidelines to prohibit unlawful discrimination.
According to Facebook’s policy, ads that offer housing, employment, or credit opportunities “will not allow targeting by age, gender, ZIP code, multicultural affinity, or any detailed options describing or appearing to relate to protected characteristics.”
This has a big effect on companies boosting posts or creating ads related to housing, employment, or credit, forcing businesses to rethink their Facebook Ads strategy fast or be left in the dust.
Does Senior Living Fall Under Facebook’s Special Ads Category?
Unfortunately, yes. Senior Living Communities fall under the Special Ads Category because they fall under the umbrella of housing, which Facebook defines as:
Housing Opportunity or Related Service: 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 makes it incredibly difficult for nursing homes, assisted living communities, independent living communities, and other types of senior living communities to market themselves to seniors on Facebook.
What Limitations Does Facebook’s Special Ads Category Have on Senior Living Ads & Boosts?
Unfortunately the next time you make an ad geared towards senior living housing, you’ll have to deal with these limitations…
Inability to Target Audiences By Age
The biggest limitation Facebook’s Special Ad Category has on senior living ads is the inability to target audiences by age. Before the Special Ads category was introduced, senior living communities could narrow the audience of their post/boost to only include adults aged 65+ if they were aiming to target seniors, or even adults 45-60, if they were looking to target adults with senior parents. Sadly, that sort of age targeting is no longer an option, and all posts and ads related to housing must be delivered to Facebook users 13-65+.
Elimination of Additional Interest Targeting
The second biggest limitation is the elimination of additional interest targeting. Think you could get around the age targeting limitations by sending ads to users who are interested in “senior living,” “assisted living,” or even “senior health”? Think again. Ads that fall under the Special Ads Category are given a significantly reduced pool of interests to choose from (around 100), and none of them relate to senior living or seniors.
Elimination of Lookalike Audiences
An additional limitation is the elimination of lookalike audiences for ads that fall under the Special Ads Category. While Facebook never specified exactly what “common qualities” it was matching in order to deliver your ad to an audience of people who are similar, traditional Lookalike Audiences are not allowed under the new guidelines lookalike audience creations include age, gender and ZIP code targeting.
What can you do to target users on Facebook?
Despite the Special Ads Category’s limitations, there are ways you can still market your senior living community ads on Facebook including…
Remarket Website Visitors
Target users who visited your website or a specific page on your website and remarket to them. For example, you could create a custom audience of all users who visited your community’s website with an ad promoting an upcoming open house or a video ad inviting them to take a tour of the community.
Remarket Email List
Lead times for senior living can be long. Many times, seniors and children of seniors will start researching senior living options well before they actually need to make a decision. Creating a custom audience of emails you’ve received from interested parties within the last year will keep you at the top of their mind.
*For remarketing audiences, your list must match at least 1,000 Facebook users or your ads will either not run or be too expensive to run.
Special Ads Lookalike Audience
A Special Ad Audience, which is essentially a lookalike audience that utilizes the Special Ad’s cateogry’s limitations. A Special Ads audience is an audience based on similarities in online behavior without considering things like age, gender or ZIP code. While not as relevant as the traditional lookalike audience would be, these are worth testing out.
Blog Traffic Ads
One way to skirt around the Special Ads category is to not deliver an ad that is about housing. For most senior living communities, this can easily be done by sharing your community’s blogs relating to senior health. Boosting link posts to your blogs or creating an ad campaign under the traffic objective with ads that advertise your blogs are a sly way to drive traffic to your website using regular audience targeting.
Need Help Marketing Your Senior Living Community on Facebook?
If you are serious about getting your senior living community found on the web, contact us, or give us a call at 518-743-9424 to schedule a free 15-minute review of your plan and get recommendations from our Senior Living Strategists!
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