Marketing to Seniors, Paid Media/PPC, Social Media

Facebook’s New Restrictions on Special Ad Categories & Audiences and What This Means for Senior Living

Smiling faces with Facebook Ads text overlay

Facebook’s changes to its advertising algorithms to prevent discrimination in housing, credit and employment ads aren’t anything new. The social platform created this distinction for ads about housing, employment and credit in 2019. 

However, it was recently announced that special ad audiences, a tool that lets you expand your audience for ads related to housing, employment and credit, will no longer be available for use by the end of 2022. 

What does this mean for the housing industry … more specifically, the senior living industry? 

What Is a Special Ad Category?

Special ad categories are any ads that promote or directly link to credit, employment, housing, or social or political opportunities. In March 2019, to avoid any discrimination that could occur when advertising within these categories, Facebook announced targeting options would be limited or unavailable for these ads.

Prior to the implementation of Special Ad Categories, Facebook allowed advertisers to target niche users based on interests or backgrounds, and even permitted the ability to exclude specific groups. This niche targeting caused a number of issues and ultimately resulted in more restrictions on advertisers. 

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What Are Special Ad Audiences?

In addition to eliminating specific targeting options for housing, employment, political and credit ads in 2019, Facebook introduced Special Ad Audiences as an alternative to Lookalike Audiences. Special Ad Audiences are a lot like Lookalike Audiences in that they allow you to create an audience of people whose interests are similar to those of your customers, but comply with the Special Ad Category’s audience restrictions. Since Facebook limits Lookalike Audiences for housing, credit and employment ads, this gave Special Ad Category advertisers the option to expand their targeting. 

Facebook’s Recent Decision and Its Impact on Housing Ad Targeting 

Due to Meta’s settlement agreement with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Facebook will be removing Special Ad Audiences for all Special Ad Categories. This specifically impacts housing ads.

The following is the timeline from Meta regarding the removal  of Special Ad Audiences:

  • August 25, 2022: You will no longer be able to create new Special Ad Audiences.
  • September 13, 2022: Special Ad Audiences will no longer be available for use in new ad creation via the API.
  • October 12, 2022: Special Ad Audiences will no longer be available for use in new ad creation across Ads Manager and the API. After this date, affected ad sets may be paused for delivery. To resume delivery of the paused ad sets, you’ll need to update them to remove Special Ad Audiences. As an alternative, we recommend exploring broader targeting options.

Good News: We Have a Solution

The changes to Facebook’s advertising algorithms aren’t expected to impact Attane clients running social media campaigns. Over the years, we’ve worked through numerous Facebook changes. Our Attane social media team is consistently pivoting to understand what resonates with our prospects the most, and what is providing the most value to deepen the connection between senior living communities and their prospects.

Even with the Special Ad Category restrictions, there are still a multitude of first- and third-party targeting options that our team leverages to attract new prospects. One thing that will never change is Facebook’s role in building connections. In addition to Facebook being an ad network, it’s also a social network. We’ll often see the indirect benefit of our ads assisting in conversations with leads, residents and prospects.

Facebook is a space to reach prospects at every phase of their journey. This cycle of using social and content to attract, connect and convert is what our Attane team is focused on.

Attane is committed to helping you choose the correct category for your campaigns, prevent unlawful discrimination, and ensure compliance with Facebook’s Advertising Policies. For more information on how you can work with our team of experts, contact us today. 

Example of 3 Facebook Ads Attane has done for senior living clients

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