PPC for apartments (apartment PPC) is a type of pay-per-click digital advertising available through ad platforms like Google Ads and Meta Ads. Apartment PPC ads often appear when apartment seekers search for apartments or housing in their specific region or area. Unlike traditional apartment marketing methods, like billboards or TV ads, PPC campaigns for apartments can be hyper-targeted and are often far more cost-efficient.
Why PPC Apartment Ads Are So Effective
So why are PPC apartment ads so effective compared to other forms of apartment advertising like billboards or tv spots?
You can even advertise available apartments well before a project is completed. The right combination of ad placement, headlines, images, and even video can get clicks, secure pre-leases, and fill a building fast.
We can target specific types of apartment seekers and bid for ad placement in highly relevant places.
For example, with apartment PPC you can:
Insert your brand immediately into Google search and target people looking for apartments in a specific region, city, or even neighborhood.
Place bids on popular keyword searches like “Student apartments for rent near me”
Geographically target specific regions and areas within a city
These are just a few examples of what you can do with Google Ads in Google Search.
Apartment PPC also includes social media ads hosted through platforms like Meta Ads.
Search-Based Apartment PPC vs. Social Media Apartment PPC
Digital advertising isn’t just limited to Google. Advertisers and property managers can run apartment PPC ads from a variety of digital platforms including:
Google (Google Ads)
Microsoft (Microsoft Ads, or Bing Ads)
Meta (Facebook and Instagram Ads)
TikTok (TikTok Ads)
Snapchat (Snapchat Ads)
But it's important to know how all of the above fall into two different types of ad platforms - search-based and social-based.
So what’s the difference between the two?
Search-Based Apartment PPC (Google Ads and Microsoft Ads)
Search-based PPC ads are predominantly keyword-based. They get their ad targeting information from search phrases that people type when using search engines like Google or Bing. This type of advertising is also referred to as paid search.
Platforms like Google Ads and Microsoft Ads allow advertisers to bid against competitors for ad visibility. So when apartment seekers type in certain keywords and phrases in their search bars, they’ll potentially see your advertisement embed directly into their search results.
Search campaigns allow you to target and set parameters like:
Search keywords and phrases
Certain locations or regions down to the zipcode
The results in search engine results pages
How much you’re willing to spend each day, week, or month
How much you pay for each click or qualified lead
Search-based PPC primarily displays ads as text. But this can be expanded to include banner ads (images), videos, or a combination of all of these formats.
Google was the first to popularize this style of PPC advertising. Google Ads are still one of the most common ways apartment marketers leverage PPC advertising.
When someone has a question or a need today the most common first step is to Google it. So when someone is interested in moving to a new city, or just a new part of their current city they often search for “apartments in X”.
A well-developed Google PPC campaign will get you in front of people in the market for a new home while they are actively doing the research.
But social media companies like Meta, Snapchat, and TikTok have also produced robust PPC platforms as well.
Social Media Apartment PPC (Meta Ads, TikTok Ads, Snapchat Ads)
Social media ads are a fantastic tool for building a brand around an apartment community or even a management company.
They’re effective because they allow advertisers to target apartment seekers based on demographic and psychographic information, not keyword searches. This is what separates social media PPC ads from search-based PPC ads.
With social media ads, all advertisers need to do is:
Select a target demographic
Filter their selection using psychographic information
Set a desired targeting region
Upload creative ad assets
The goal is to visually appeal to apartment seekers and showcase your building and your brand.
At Lease Engine, we find that social media ads work particularly well for advertising student housing and class A or B real estate. This is especially true for developments positioned toward millennials and Gen-Z lessees.
These generations often value their place of living for the statement it makes. So visual social ads are the fastest way to show what kinds of statements these generations can make through their leasing choices.
Search-based PPC advertising vs. social media-based PPC advertising
So which form of apartment PPC advertising is better?
It depends on your audience and goals (I’ve got more on this below).
As with the example above, we find that social media ads work well for targeting students. But this ad strategy may not work for other generations or demographics.
Specifically, you can’t target age demographics through social media apartment PPC campaigns. This is technically considered a form of discrimination.
This means you have to choose other location and retargeting options. Then you can target specific generations with content in your ads and use targeted PPC headlines for apartments.
Regardless, by setting up an integrated campaign with display retargeting and social media, you can create a robust system that keeps prospective residents thinking about your property.
All of this happens as you showcase your unique selling points and differentiators. You can’t do this in the same way on platforms like Zillow or apartments.com.
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And explored the key differences between search and social PPC campaigns
But what are the steps for actually getting an apartment PPC campaign live?
1. Choose the right PPC advertising platform(s)
Choosing the right ad platform is the first place we see many apartment leasing and multifamily marketing firms get bogged down. They often need help with their overall ad strategy starting with platform choice.
As a general rule, paid search works best for targeting apartment seekers who already have intent. These are active searchers looking for solutions.
Alternatively, paid social allows you to leverage more psychographic and demographic information to target people with more powerful visuals.
Be advised - real estate platforms like apartments.com and Zillow also offer their own PPC ad services. Depending on your goals, these services might be the way to go.
However, both apartments.com and zillow use pay-per-click advertising models to arbitrage the leads they generate. They then sell those leads directly to apartment complex owners and property managers.
This means that if you’re advertising through them, it’s likely that you’re paying a premium for your leads.
These platforms can be great for retargeting purposes, for builing your own lead pipeline, and for brand building. But on platforms like apartments.com your offering doesn't look unique. It's just lumped in with all the other offerings in the area.
Unsure which PPC advertising platforms to choose?
You can also reach out to a digital marketing agency like Lease Engine for help. We only focus on apartment marketing. To-date, we’ve helped our clients manage millions in ad-spend through our apartment PPC services.
2. Create your advertising account(s)
The first sticking point for many is choosing an advertising platform. The second sticking point is having to learn how to run ads on platforms like Google Ads or Meta Ads.
Again, this is where Lease Engine’s apartment PPC services can help you.
But, for those looking to make a go of it themselves, you’ll need to create your advertising account with your platform(s) of choice.
Once you set up your ad account, you’ll then connect it to your Facebook business page. You’ll also need to add a credit card to manage your billing.
Meta ads are organized by Campaign > Ad Group > and Ads.
To get started with Google Ads, visit the Google Ads home page. From there you can follow the setup instructions, add a payment card, and get started.
Google organizes ads by Campaign > Ad Group > and Ads similarly to Meta Ads.
3. Choose your objective
Almost every PPC advertising platform will ask you to choose an objective when you create your first PPC campaign.
For advertisers, an objective might be:
Clicks (actual clicks from an ad or call to action to a webpage or website)
Impressions (how many times the ad was served to an audience)
Traffic (unique visitors to your website from an ad)
Calls (phone calls placed from ad clicks)
Leads (lead submissions from web forms)
Conversions (a self-defined goal like a click or form submission)
In Meta Ads, you can choose your objective through the “Campaign” section of your ad manager.
At Lease Engine, we often choose the “Lead” objective, with a focus on “Conversions”. This allows us to optimize ads for key events such as leasing inquiries.
You’ll need to install the Facebook tracking pixel on your website to use the conversion event for Meta ads. This inserts code that makes it possible to track key events that are important to your business.
Google Ads requires the same kind of configuration. This is done through Google Tag Manager and setting up a tag to link conversions.
Implementing a Facebook tracking pixel and Tag Manager can be fairly technical. It depends on your campaign needs. I recommend reaching out to your website developer or an agency like Lease Engine for help on this.
If you’re setting up Meta Ads, you’ll also need to identify your campaign as being for Housing, Credit, or Employment.
If you don’t have the ability to run Conversion campaigns, the “Traffic Objective” is typically the next best bet. This objective optimizes your audience for users most likely to click on your ads.
4. Select your audience and placements
In apartment marketing, taking a local approach is essential to any strategy. When we run ads for housing on Meta, many demographic targeting factors are limited.
This is why we recommend using conversion events as the goal of any campaign. Conversion events also allow Meta and Google to optimize your audience for you based on who’s most likely to convert in your campaign.
From what we can tell at Lease Engine, using broad audiences with conversion objectives are the best current way to optimize your audience on Meta.
In housing, we love running ads specifically for Marketplace.
Marketplace is already commonplace for apartment and housing searches. We’ve found it to be one of the best places to run ads across all of our PPC initiatives.
5. Select your bid strategy
Most all ad platforms offer several different ways to bid for ad placement or impressions. These bidding strategies come with various levels of sophistication and can severely impact your PPC campaign’s performance.
Manual bidding allows you to change bids at the keyword level to fine-tune your campaigns with the most direct control.
Manual bidding is the most time-intensive of the bidding options. The larger the campaign, the more difficult it can be to keep track of and manage your spend.
The benefit of this style of bidding is that you can manipulate things like how often your ad is shown, where on the search page it displays, and how many clicks you get before your budget is spent simply by adjusting how much you are willing to pay per click.
Manual bids are great when trying to capture apartment shoppers because you can spend just enough to stay #2 or #3 on the ad rankings and catch people moving down the list of options. You can often do this cheaper than your competition who’s bidding for the #1 spot.
Too busy to regularly check your ads? Then an automated bid strategy is your best bet.
The two most common automated bid strategies in both Meta and Google Ads are Max Clicks ad Max Conversions.
Max Clicks is exactly what it sounds like. You set your budget and Google or Meta will attempt to get as many clicks as possible for the keywords or targeting parameters set for the campaign.
On both platforms, you can also set a max cost per click. This makes it possible to project your traffic. But if your cost cap is too low, you’ll have a hard time generating traffic.
With Max Conversions, you first need to set up conversion events on your website to pass back to Google or Meta. This could be something like filling out an inquiry form, or visiting a specific page on your website.
Often you’ll need a developer or a technical marketing team. They should have an understanding of Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and Facebook’s tracking cookie to properly set up your conversions.
Once your conversions are set, Google and Meta will attempt to generate as many “conversions” as possible with the budget you’ve allocated. You can also allocate a target cost per acquisition.
It might not always work. But it can help signal to Google’s and Meta’s algorithms what you consider a profitable conversion cost so they can attempt to get as close as possible.
6. Create compelling ads with relevant headlines, copy, and media
Once you’ve mastered targeting and bidding parameters, you’ll need to create compelling advertisements. This is often one of the more time-consuming aspects of setting up apartment PPC campaigns.
On Google, Responsive Search Ads are the current standard for text-based search ads. You can also run text-only ads through Meta Ads. But Meta offers far more visual ways to advertise an apartment complex.
Regardless of your PPC platform, make sure that your ads are relevant to your audience. You’ll also want to run clicks to a dedicated landing page. This is key to getting the most out of your ad dollar.
The easiest way to keep things relevant is by choosing a few key differentiators for your property. This can be location, unit size, amenities, or a tagline that you use regularly.
Visual ads or video ads on YouTube or Instagram that showcase your apartment are the most common way to showcase your units.
At Lease Engine we’ve seen a lot of success for our clients by using lifestyle shots and videos that also showcase amenities and a sense of community at your apartment.
You can often create a proper ad just by following all of the prompts in whatever ad platform you’re using. This helps ensure that you create a complete and compelling advertisement.
For all ad types, you’ll also want to add a relevant call to action such as “check availability”.
7. Publish your ad
Once all these steps are complete, you’re ready to publish your campaign. Don’t forget to double-check your budget.
This is typically managed in the “Ad Set” or “Campaign” section of the ad manager in Meta Ads. Similarly you can manage this in “Campaign Settings” in Google Ads.
8. Test, test, test
Once you’ve taken the plunge into online advertising, the final step is to test! Try new creative, audiences, and campaign strategies and keep an eye on outcomes.
The more time you spend optimizing your campaigns, the better your results will be over the long term.
At Lease Engine, we often run two variants of an ad or campaign. We then see which one has a better click-through rate and cost per click. After two weeks, or when we have enough data to make informed decisions, we turn off the loser and repeat the process.
That’s the basis of a very simple but effective A/B test.
9. Optimize your Ad Rank/Ad Score
Ad Rank in Meta Ads and Ad Score in Google Ads determines where in the ad order yours will display.
A good ad rank can also mean cheaper clicks when using automated bid strategies. Your score gets determined by several factors including:
Landing page relevancy
Expected click-through rate
When someone searches for a relevant keyword or matches your targeting parameters, Google and Mata calculate your ad rank against your competitors. Ads with higher scores get displayed (ranked) from highest to lowest on the page.
So how can you optimize your ad score or ad rank? You need to take extra time to dial in the details.
Create highly relevant ads that people click
Build relevant landing pages aligned with your keywords or audience
Focusing on both of these factors can help you bring down your cost per acquisition. It can also give you an edge over your competition.
10. Set up retargeting
Are you familiar with ads that seem to follow you around as your surf the web? Google is one of the biggest players in this space. Some users consider these ads invasive, but these types of ads are fantastic at generating exposure to your brand. But always in moderation.
With the new responsive display ads, it’s easy to set up a display ad with nothing more than a few phrases and value statements. All you need is a couple of images and a logo.
For pennies a click, they’re often an effective option for apartment advertisers that want to stay top of mind with their more expensive search traffic.
Note: retargeting campaigns do require an understanding of Google Analytics to implement.
Types of Apartment PPC Campaigns
Example 1. Local searchers campaign
This is a PPC campaign focused on people looking for housing in your area.
“apartments near me”
“2 bedroom apartments”
Are all relevant search phrases for this campaign.
These campaigns aren’t fancy, but they tend to be the easiest to spin up and provide solid return on investment. They make it possible to get in front of people right when they’re looking for a solution you offer.
Bonus points if you can target even more narrow options like “student housing” or “apartments with a pool near me”.
Example 2. Meta Retargeting
Spending a lot of time and energy getting prospective tenants to your site? Consider developing a strategy to stay top of mind for that web traffic.
Retargeting campaigns on Meta, the platform behind Instagram and Facebook, are a great way to stay engaged with your site visitors.
First you’ll need to install the Meta pixel so you can start building your audience in the meta platform. Then you will need to craft some compelling content.
Video is fast becoming the preferred medium, but if you’re just testing the waters, a simple image with a value statement about your property works.
Since you know that the audience has already visited your site, you can be more creative with landing page copy. Consider presenting a special offer to entice visitors who weren’t sold the first time they visited your marketing website.
Example 3. Statewide Search Campaigns
Targeting your state with a narrow keyword focus can draw in leads moving to your area.
This type of campaign might not drive the same volume of traffic to your site that a local campaign will. But keywords like “apartments in Chico” or “3 bedroom apartments near Sacramento” allow you to extend your reach beyond your local geography.
The best part is that all of this happens without wasting budget on people searching for homes in nearby locations
Keep in mind, the cost-per-click can be more expensive for these campaigns. This is because your audience size is smaller.
So if you’re finding these campaigns to be too expensive, you’ll want to adjust your CPC with manual bids. You can also try adjusting your CPA for Conversion Max campaigns.
Schedule a Call With An Apartment Marketing Expert
Get a free expert consultation and create a roadmap to higher occupancy.