Facebook advertising has been one of the most prominent forms of online advertising over the past 10 years – and historically, it’s been on of the most effective tools to promote apartments and condos online.
With over 2.7 billion monthly active users, Meta is a powerful tool for promoting your apartment building and reaching a wide audience. Combine this with a new generation of “Marketplace” users, who actively use Facebook marketplace in their apartment search, and it’s easy to see why this system is such a powerful tool to promote your available apartments.
However, recent changes on Meta, and regulations in advertising have made advertising apartments on Facebook and Instagram more difficult.
But, even with all of these changes, we’ve still managed to see major successes with Facebook and Instagram advertising in the apartment space. In this article, we’ll look at the tactics and strategies that we’ve seen continue to pay off in housing.
Meta advertising is a deep topic. There are tons of resources that outline how to use the platform in general, but we haven’t seen any guides out there with industry specific tips on how to effectively use the platform to market apartments or Real Estate. Our intention with this article is to give advertisers with some basic knowledge of Meta a leg up against their competition. If you are brand new to Meta ads, it may be helpful to start by looking at AdEspresso’s beginners guide to Facebook ads to learn the basics.
How We Approach Meta Ads Today:
In this article, we’ll cover the 5 main points, from a brief history of Meta targeting, to the 4 main elements of a successful ad campaign on the platform.
- Why Your Current Ads Stopped Working
- Audience and Targeting
- Creative Placement
- Events Tracking and Conversion Optimizing Campaigns
- Campaign Structure and Launch
A successful campaign requires a good foundation, and our goal with this article is to help you establish that without on a fast track.
If you're looking to run ads outside of Facebook to promote your apartment, we suggest that you check out our article on running PPC ads for apartments. It covers Google Ads, Display, and Social Ads in one article to give you a broader understanding of how these channels can work together to help you smash your leasing goals.
Why Your Ads Stopped Working:
The rollout of iOS 14 and subsequent apple operating systems, not to mention, a settlement agreement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development triggered a cascade of platform changes that obliterated advertisers ability to target audiences effectively in the housing space. In fact, the effect of these changes has been so strong that one of the most common challenges we hear apartment marketers facing is “How to reach out target audience”. It’s no secret that this space has recently become much more challenging.
In short, Meta took major steps to give users better control of their data, and advertisers in housing are affected by these changes more than anyone else.
Although this sounds like a daunting challenge to overcome, the opportunity in Meta advertising is still too large to let go by the wayside.
The real change in the platform has come down to targeting. We no longer have special ads audiences, and any demographic targeting (age, marital status, etc) is now prohibited to use on Facebook or Instagram.
With this in mind, we are left with just one option on targeting: going broad. Yep - you read that right. The past 20 years of digital advertising have all been focused on leveraging specific audience targeting to win new business. With this change, our hands are forced to build audiences like it’s 1980.
However, there are a few boons for the platform still:
- The prominence of Facebook Marketplace for people searching for a home.
- The ability to send data to Meta accurately through the Conversion API.
- Location targeting
- Event based optimization
Together, these strategies form foundation of competitive advertising on meta in the housing space in a post iOS 15 world.
Creative and Placement:
There are many ways to structure a campaign on Meta today, with goals you can choose on the platform to match your objectives as a business. However, the two most popular ad types we see in housing are:
- Direct Response Ads: ads that directly showcase one of your apartments through beautiful imagery and compelling copy.
- Branding ads for your management company or portfolio of houses: If your management company has enough inventory, it may also make sense to create brand ads that are designed to help your company stand out in a sea of bland competition.
In direct response advertising, you’ll want to use eye-catching and visually appealing ads when promoting your apartments and condos on Facebook. If you have the option, videos are still one of the top performers in 2023, however, creative formatting specifically for “Facebook Marketplace” and limited to just marketplace has been one of our top performers over the past 12 months as well. For these ads, we’ll use the “Conversion” objective on the campaign level, and will need to be sure our event setup is working right for the strategy to work.
In Branding ads, or ads directing people to an Appfolio or Buildium portfolio, Video and eye catching imagery are also paramount. These ads should be designed to build trust, increase brand visibility and get people browsing your inventory. They are perfect for retargeting and can serve as a great catch all when limited to broad audience targeting as well.
Our campaign set up for branding ads can be a bit higher in the funnel, and clicks, or even reach objectives can be effective here.
When it comes down to creative, you want to stand out – no matter what your objective is. One tool we’ve used is the Facebook ads library to see what others in your space are doing. Spy On Your Competitors Ads: This little known tool can be a huge help – and actually lets you see exactly what ads your competitors are running. To get started, go to the Facebook Ads Library.
Augment broad targeting with great event tracking.
Because we don’t have access to good audience building anymore - we are left with another option: AI.
Meta has invested heavily in its AI over the past few years, and as they’ve cut targeting options, AI has become the biggest tool in combatting poor audience quality.
How it works: in short, good events tracking allows you to tell facebook who is taking action on your site. When Facebook identifies users on your site who convert they take note of it, and use conversions to teach the algorithm to show ads to more people like those who are interested in your properties.
The more people take action, the better your audience will get.
Facebook recommends at least 50 optimization events to get out of “Learning Mode”, and once you pass that – the system typically begins to deliver your ads to a more targeted audience and you’ll start to see costs go down.
This also means there is a threshold to what you should be willing to spend on ads: you need a budget that’s realistically going to get you past that point.
Run Conversion Campaigns to allow Meta to optimize your audience and show ads to people most likely to convert.
Setting Up and Launching Your Ad Campaign:
The Meta advertising dashboard is set up with a three layer structure. There are Campaigns, Ad Sets, and Ads.
The campaign level is where you declare ad objectives and set your ad budget as well as the dates and times when your ad will be shown.
The ad set level is where you’ll identify your audience and set up “placements”. If you aim to use the strategy listed above and run ads only on marketplace, then this is where you’ll do that.
The ads level is where you build the actual creative for the ads you’re running.
Once you have structured your campaign, ad set, and built your ads, you can review and publish your campaign.
It’s always a good idea to check for any errors or issues, such as missing information, typos, audience set up, budget, and location before you click publish. Once your ad is live, you can monitor its performance and make adjustments as needed to improve its effectiveness.
For events tracking, you’ll want to go over to the “Events Manager” and follow the steps listed on Meta to make sure you’re tracking any important metrics that are important to your business. If you have the technical chops, the best way to set up events is through the “Conversion API” - and Meta offers direct integration and event set up tools through popular tools like Wordpress or Google Tag Manager.
Meta ads are still a powerful tool for promoting your apartment building and reaching potential tenants. Even with the headwind of recent restrictions, if you follow these tips, you can create targeted ads that are shown to individuals who are likely to be interested in your building, increasing the visibility of your propert, generating leads, and driving more successful rentals.