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October 31, 2019

If your company offers services related to housing, employment, or any type of financial services, and you advertise on Facebook – keep reading.  Recent policy changes, the result of a lawsuit that several civil rights groups brought against Facebook, requires certain companies to run their campaigns under a label that denies access to some targeting demographics.

Facebook’s Housing, Employment, and Credit Ad policy

On August 26th, 2019, Facebook started requiring all companies offering housing, employment, and credit services to run their campaigns under the “Special Ad” category. Campaigns set up under this category are blocked from or restricted in several targeting options. When you select the Special Ad category, your access to the following options will be different than for other ads:

  • Saved audiences: Previously created saved audiences are unavailable.
  • Locations: You can target ads to people by geographic location (such as country, region, state, province, city, or county), but not zip code. Location selections also automatically include a minimum 15-mile radius around your pin-drop.
  • Age: Target audiences must include 18 through 65+ and is not editable.
  • Gender: Target audiences must include all genders.
  • Detailed targeting: Some demographic, behavior, and interest options are unavailable.
  • Excluded interests: You cannot exclude interests from targeting.
  • Lookalike audiences: You must use “Special Ad Audiences” instead

If you’re unsure whether your company meets the criteria for what constitutes housing, employment, or credit services, Facebook provides a more detailed list for each here.

How to shape your campaigns under the new policy

Facebook is still working to build out a better flow for housing, employment, and credit services advertisers, so for now, when you create or edit applicable ads, you’ll need to select the Special Ad category in Ads Manager. This category will automatically limit the targeting options you see available as you build out the rest of your ad.

As Facebook states in the screenshot above, any new or edited ads that aren’t correctly categorized won’t run until they’re edited to comply.

With the removal of many of Facebook’s most valuable data points, you may have to get creative with your targeting. First, go through what you already have running, or what you plan on running in upcoming campaigns. Be proactive and update anything you think might get flagged to meet the policy’s requirements. Then, zero in on what you can still leverage:

Use first-party data to create intelligent Special Ad audiences

The new policy bars advertisers from using traditional lookalike audiences. Instead, you can create a “Special Ad Audience” that functions similarly to a lookalike audience but won’t consider gender age, zip codes, or other protected demographics to find similar users. Use seed audiences as you normally would, building them from your most valuable users like people who have purchased your product, or people who have demonstrated high intent in some way.

Reach out to your Facebook rep

As advertisers like yourself and Facebook get used to the parameters of the new policy, you may see your ads getting flagged for violations in the form of disapproved ads, even if your products aren’t strictly HEC. Reach out to your Facebook rep to discuss it, and consider turning on manual review to get your ads in front of human eyes, rather than an AI review process. Even if you feel that your company is on the periphery of housing, employment, or credit, talk to your rep to learn more about and prepare yourself for the ways your ads might be affected.

Avoid creative red flags

In working with clients whose business falls under the restrictive categories, we’ve come across a few creative strategies that are almost guaranteed to get flagged.

Promised money: Ads that promise money related to housing, employment, or credit opportunities in any way are highly likely to be flagged. Avoid making promises of any kind in your ads to help creative pass the review process.

Misleading landing pages: Your landing pages must reflect the same standards that ads are required to and follow Facebook’s ad policies.

Expect the unexpected

One of our clients saw a bump in performance with some of their Special Ad categories campaigns. They also saw a reduction in ad disapprovals, which helped them cut down on the time it takes to launch a campaign. If your results aren’t what you anticipated, use this opportunity to test. There are likely more ways you can boost your performance even more.

Facebook says it’s still working to make the HEC ad creation process smoother for advertisers, and more transparent for users. That includes updates to ads interfaces that will limit the number of targeting options available for HEC companies as well as a way for anyone to search for and view all live housing ads targeting the U.S. or from U.S.-based advertisers. We’ll be sure to highlight any updates that might affect your advertising strategies.


At Bamboo, we’ve spent years mastering the ins and outs of Facebook. If you’re looking for a new growth agency, we’d love to chat. Fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch!

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