Ever since Facebook announced their policy updates for housing, employment, and credit advertisers in 2019 we anticipated that Google would soon follow suit; in other words, we knew this was coming. As suspected, Google announced last week that those same advertising restrictions for housing, employment, and credit advertisers would also be coming to their platform, as soon as possible and fully in force before the end of 2020.
What Does This Mean for Home Builders?
Google’s policy update will prohibit builders from targeting or excluding their ads based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP Code. While this policy update might sound alarming, The Fair Housing Act already prohibits builders from discriminating against potential buyers/renters because of their race, national origin, sex, family status, disability, or religion and the majority of these demographics were never available as targeting options, so big picture, not that much is changing.
Fortunately for Google Ads advertisers, search is one of the most targeted forms of digital advertising (when done right). There’s no other advertising platform where you’re able to effectively get in front of customers when they’re searching for businesses/products like yours. Builders really shouldn’t feel any impact from these policy changes if their paid search campaigns are structured with a solid strategy and built on sound search fundamentals. For ONeil clients, highly targeted keywords, a robust negative terms list, search intent, along with other search best practices will mean that their search campaigns will be largely unaffected by these updates.
These new policy changes are likely going to have the most impact on Google display campaigns and the ability to get creative with initial targeting options at set-up. The removal of ZIP Code targeting could likely mean the end of geofencing campaign targeting practices. Removing the age demographic means you can no longer limit ads for your 55+ community from displaying to users under the age of 50. The removal of marital status means you can no longer focus on serving your single family home community ad to users who are more likely to have families.
However, while those restrictions may seem daunting on the surface, similarly to the changes made on Facebook last year, Google’s AI is also getting smarter. This means Google’s artificial intelligence system and machine learning is getting better at identifying your ideal customer – who is most likely to engage with your website and most importantly, who is most likely to take a conversion action. Demographics that marketers previously used in campaign targeting to cleverly try to hone in on the right audience, Google’s AI is now able to do behind the scenes based on your website traffic and conversion data.
All that being said, a high performing website with proper analytics and conversion tracking points should be a top priority for home builders as they think ahead about how to best prepare for these upcoming changes on the Google network. If you were able to successfully navigate through Facebook’s advertising policy changes last year and take advantage of their AI, then you should have no trouble managing Google’s policy updates either.
If you’re worried about how to best manage and prepare for Google Ads upcoming policy changes, contact us today to see how we can help. To learn more about the upcoming update to housing, employment, and credit advertising policies read Google’s statement, here.