Facebook Is Removing One of Its Key Audiences For Use in Housing Campaigns

Facebook recently announced that it would be eliminating certain targeting options for housing, including Special Ad Audiences (SAA). The move comes as the company faces increasing pressure to comply with fair housing laws. While Facebook has long allowed advertisers to target users based on interests and demographics, the SAA feature allowed advertisers to target new users who had expressed interest in topics related to housing, or interacted with an ad campaign’s lower funnel attributes, (i.e. website visitors, lead form submissions, etc.). For example, an advertiser could target users who had visited a real estate website or searched for terms like “apartment for rent,” and create an audience based off of those behavior similarities. The elimination of this feature is likely to have an impact on the way the housing industry markets on social media to reach potential leads.

This news comes from Facebook reporting a settlement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that will alter the way they serve housing advertising in the United States. With this announcement, a new method will be introduced to make sure that a housing ad’s audience more closely reflects the targeted, eligible audience for that ad. The key demographics this method focuses on are age, gender and estimated race or ethnicity. In a statement, Facebook said that they will, “…be determined not just by our commitment to this work, but by concrete changes we make in our products,” and that “they look forward to not only building solutions, but participating in and supporting the critical, industry-wide conversations that lie ahead.”

What The Special Ad Audience Is

Facebook offers a variety of targeting options to help advertisers reach their desired audience. A SAA is similar to a Lookalike audience in that is allows advertisers to target a group of people that shares similar interests and behaviors as other, relevant audiences. However, a SAA is an adjusted option adjusted to comply with the advertising restrictions associated with the campaign’s chosen category. The SAA was released in August of 2018 as a way of complying with Fair Housing rules as it doesn’t use targeting information such as age and gender, or certain demographics, behaviors or interests.

How We Use This Audience In Our Strategy

When it comes to Facebook advertising, one of the most powerful tools at disposal is the SAA as it can improve overall click-metric results.
There are a few different ways to use SAA. We use this audience to help reach the right people and find more users who may be interested in your property. Essentially, we create SAAs to reach a fresh and relevant audience to continue earning qualified traffic. The SAA feature can be a powerful tool for Facebook advertising by targeting ads specifically to the people who are most likely to be interested, it can improve results and provide more value towards an advertising budget – all while keeping the audience fresh and relevant.

What We Can Expect From This Change

The SAA audience provides a group of individuals who are more likely to be interested in the advertisement, allowing for better brand awareness, impressions and new audiences. Without being able to use this feature we will have to depend on interests and retargeting within our campaigns which may result in changes in Click-Through-Rate, Cost-Per-1000 Impressions and Cost-Per-Click across different housing industries.

What We’re Doing To Prepare

We are aware that this is coming, and we’re already planning. We’ve spoken with the Facebook team to better understand the impact, alternatives, and how it might be addressed. According to Facebook, they are working on a replacement for the SAA audience but have provided no further information. To learn where we can minimize the effects of this change, we’ll be researching our current audience options, strategy, and performance. As soon as new information becomes available, we’ll communicate any changes.

Still have further questions? Feel free to reach out to us through your dedicated Agency FIFTY3 Account Manager.