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by OppGenetix

On June 11, 2020, Google Ads announced a policy update that would remove advertisers’ abilities to target or exclude specific audience criteria for housing, employment, and credit industries. 

According to Google, the policy will go into effect in the United States and Canada with a roll-out plan starting from now until the end of 2020. At its core, this update is geared toward protecting sensitive consumers from exploitation, as these industries can be deemed as “need-based.” This isn’t groundbreaking. In 2019, Facebook instituted a similar policy for the same industries. 

Let’s uncover how this may impact advertisers in the home building and housing segments along with strategies that can help overcome our ability to maintain or improve prospect qualification. 

 

What does the Google Ads policy update entail?

Google Ads has already prohibited targeting users based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, and other demographics related to identity, beliefs, sexuality, or personal hardship.

For advertisers offering employment, housing, and credit opportunities, Google will implement further ad targeting restrictions using the following information:

 

Zip code

Zip code will no longer be an option for targeting ads in these industries. This may be the biggest change that will affect home builders since location is a key component for finding prospects who wish to move into their communities.

 

Gender

While targeting ads based on users’ sexual orientation was already prohibited, gender was not. For most advertisers, this will still be an ad targeting option; however, for home builders, it will not be anymore.

 

Age

Age won’t be an area for these industry advertisers to use for ad targeting or exclusions. This  means that advertisers will be unable to segment out age groups based on a product that is being offered. 

 

Parental and marital statuses

Married couples with children are more likely to buy a newly built home than unmarried adults, with or without children. This can be viewed as a vulnerability that advertisers can exploit, thus their ability to do so is being sunsetted. 

 

When does this policy go into effect?

Google intends to roll this policy out as soon as possible. If not, the updated Google Ads policy should go into effect at the end of the year.

 

How will this new Google Ads policy affect home builders?

Savvy marketers in the home building industry typically utilize all available targeting options to ensure that the most qualified prospects — based on their financial status, location and needs — are able to shortlist the homes that they are most interested in. 

Furthermore, the housing industry has an array of products that satisfy consumers in different age ranges. From single-family homes that younger couples can grow into to active lifestyle communities for empty nesters, age is a major criteria in targeting the most relevant audiences. 

Google’s new policy update will disable these targeting options and will force marketers to become creative in their pursuit of honing in on the best prospects by prioritizing end-to-end user experience.

We believe that an overhaul of digital assets used for advertising such as marketing copy, imagery, videos, and website experience will become more contextual now than ever before to offset this change. 

 

What is OppGenetix doing to prepare for this update?

We are more than prepared for this update and the changes it entails for our paid search ad clients, especially those in the home builder industry.

For starters, we run paid social ads on Facebook, which already implemented a similar update in March 2019, and we continue to see a great deal of success from our Facebook ads for new home builders. 

We’ve also found that Google Ads’ targeting options from a demographic standpoint simply aren’t as detailed as they are on Facebook, especially on search. Facebook’s user base is limited to its registered users who give their data upon registration and continue to use the platform. 

Google, on the other hand, is used by more than just people logged into Gmail accounts. Almost anyone with access to the internet can use Google to find what exactly it is they’re looking for. That’s why the keywords you’re using for when creating Google Ads are far more important than the audience you’re targeting. You want to think about what phrases and keywords your prospects are using when searching for your services, and create ad copy that is compelling to them as well.

Based on our data, 30% to 40% of users that are searching for products and/or services on Google fall into an unknown category. This category consists of people who are not logged into their Gmail accounts or are browsing in incognito mode. In these cases, Google is unable to attribute their basic demographic information. According to the nature of Google search, it is safe to assume that even before the update, marketers did not have 100% visibility into their target audience’s demographics on Google. Moving forward, this will be the new normal.

While a zip code can be very effective for specific locations, you will still be able to advertise within a specific radius, which can include the zip code you want to focus your marketing efforts on.

As user privacy continues to be a priority in the advertising landscape, we are devoting our time toward creating more contextual experiences that are personalized to each category of users. Although this requires a greater degree of effort through the customization of ads, landing pages, and websites, it is done to make the user experience more efficient. 

These changes will also encourage businesses to streamline their sales processes after a prospect has reached out to their business. In the long run, focusing on providing a seamless web experience from start to finish will win out versus the targeting capabilities of advertising channels.

OppGenetix Team
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Google Ads Policy Update for Home Builders