[Important] Coming Soon: Google Ads Housing Policy Update – Here’s What You Need to Know

As announced in August, a new Google Ads Housing Policy, which affects accounts for real estate investors and agents, will be changing service policies come October 19th, 2020.

Carrot members have started to receive emails and notifications within their accounts with this “Update to Personalized advertising policies: Housing, employment, and credit (October 2020)” title.

We wanted to get the jump on the potential changes you’ll be facing and the mindset leading into October.

This is a pretty big change for Google Ads. Following Facebook’s move to special ad categories in 2019, Google is presenting their own housing policies.

The New Rules

  • Potentially impacted members will receive notifications in their Google Ads account prompting them to acknowledge the housing policy changes and to agree to comply with relevant local laws. If you have not acknowledged these changes when the policy goes into effect on October 19, accounts will be unable to create any new campaigns until they click to accept the changes.
  • Additionally, when the policy goes into effect, real estate advertisers will no longer be able to target audiences based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code. Any existing campaigns that target the newly restricted audiences will no longer be eligible to serve.

For more information about the policy and how to acknowledge the changes in your account, you can refer to the upcoming policy for housing on the Personalized ads page or on the Google FAQ page.

What This Means for Real Estate Agents and Investors

Advertisers will need to update their campaigns before this policy goes into effect to ensure they aren’t negatively impacted.

It will be determined how this policy affects accounts, but early indications are:

  • Zip Code targeting will no longer be available
  • Zip Code exclusions will no longer be available
  • Demographic exclusions will no longer be available

Some of the restrictions advertisers can use for excluding certain audiences based on age or income might also be affected. If you’re currently excluding specific income levels or ages, be aware that you might need to remove those restrictions in October.

Some of those accounts are already seeing warnings.

Google Ads Housing Policy notice in an account

What Should I Do Now?

For now, there isn’t anything to change unless you want to get ahead of the game. You can accept the policy and begin to make the necessary changes to your targeting and/or demographics.

You’ll see a message in your account like this:

accept the new Google Ads Housing Policy

Changes to Consider Making Now

Zip Code Targeting/Excluding

If you’re currently using a zip code based targeting strategy, now might be the time to get a headstart. Start removing your zip codes and move into a town, city, or county strategy.

Here’s What We Recommend: As you make this move, think about taking advantage of the county or city-specific landing pages as well as adjusting ad copy to match the new locations.

Age Exclusions

Accounts using age exclusions will also be affected. From what we know, if you’re currently excluding such age groups as 18 to 24 or 25 to 34, this won’t be an option.

Here’s What We Recommend: We might find something different come October, but for now, there might be an opportunity to add more negative keywords, update ad copy, and utilize ad extensions to make it clear who your audience is.

Income Exclusions

There’s also a potential that Google won’t allow for income exclusions. Some accounts have excluded such income levels as “Top 10%” due to the level of houses.

Here’s What We Recommend: Again, you can focus more on the ad copy as well as utilizing your ad extensions to better communicate the type of homes you’re either willing to buy or sell. If you’re an investor with motivated seller campaigns, you can also take advantage of better images and niched copy on your real estate landing pages.

Moving Forward

We’ll continue to monitor these new policies and be sure to send updates as they become available.

For now, it’s important to be aware of these changes. This at least gives you an idea of what changes will be coming and how your mindset might have to shift come October.

We won’t be able to see the full impact until the new policy is implemented, but we can start making adjustments to both the ads and the website to further speak to the audience.

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