Geotargeting has long been one of the most effective tools for promoting apartment buildings online. It’s the tactic that allows you to to deliver ads to individuals based on their location.
While geotargeting comes in many flavors, some examples include:
- Showing display ads to people who live in your competitors buildings.
- Showing Google search ads to people who live in your city
- Showing social media ads to people who live in your city or region.
Although Geotargeting has been around for a long time, updated regulations on major advertising platforms like Google, Facebook, and Instagram have actually made implementing this popular tactic more difficult than in the past, but it can still be a valuable addition to your media mix. Read on to see how you can leverage Geotargeting in your apartment advertising strategy to hit your leasing targets for 2023.
Note* if you're new to using paid ads in your leasing strategy, you may want to read these tips on PPC promotion for you apartment as a precursor to reading this article.
Why Invest in Geotargeting?
The benefits of using ad targeting to focus only on people who live in your market are obvious. You don’t want to waste money on people who aren’t qualified to rent from you – if only because they live two states away. When we’re spending money on ads - we want to make sure every dollar we spend is being put to use in the best way possible.
Most ad platforms today allow you to target users by location as a default setting in their ad management platforms – so anyone with basic advertising knowledge can implement the technique. However, basic knowledge of geotargeting might not get you as far as you think – in fact, it should really be viewed as a single tool in your ad targeting toolbox, not the only tool. Apartment managers who understand this are tmore likely to find advertising success.
Apartment Geotargeting in Search Ads
Use location as a filter - not as your only targeting option.
A good geotargeting campaign has layers – it leverages geography as a filter in combination with additional targeting and smart creative to boot.
Let’s take a Google Ads Campaign, for example – (say we’re promoting a building in our home city, Reno, NV).
Layer 1: Local Targeting, Local Phrases
In this campaign, you’ll leverage local targeting to show ads that are relevant to a local audience.
Location: Reno, NV +10 Miles
Keywords: Apartments Near Me, Reno Apartments, Apartments in Midtown, Luxury Apartments, Midtown Apartments
Ads: Midtown Apartments | The Alpine Reno
Layer 2: Outside of Reno Targeting with Reno Specific Phrasing
In this layer of the campaign, you’ll actually exclude a local audience but use the keyword targeting feature to zero in on people looking to move.
Location: California, Utah, Colorado, NV (Excludes Reno, NV)
Keywords: Apartments in Reno, Reno Apartments, Apartments in Midtown Reno, Moving to Reno, etc.
Ads: Midtown Reno Apartments | We’ll cover moving costs
Here we use geography to help with contextualizing the ads for the audience who is searching for an apartment. Notice that we bid on broader keywords for our local audience – assuming that if they are looking for an apartment “near me” or if they don’t add a qualifier at all, that they want to search locally.
In our audience outside of Reno, we allow the keywords we bid on to qualify the audience. We require searchers to use the phrase “Reno” in their search, otherwise, we might be spending money on people looking for an apartment in a completely unrelated town or city.
The above example is just a basic one – but it illustrates how Geotargeting can be used in combination with keyword targeting to create a more relevant ad experience.
Using Location in Social Media Ads
It’s not the silver bullet it once was.
About 5 years ago, Social media ads for apartments were a goldmine. You could target people by income, age, and even zero in on people who were expected to move soon. However, over the past three-four years (at the writing of this post) advertising for apartments through social media has been upended.
It all started with targeting options being limited by Meta through the introduction of “Special Ad Categories”. In all fairness, a lot of people were misusing the many options that Meta allowed advertisers to use for targeting, and so it was only a matter of time before regulators turned their attention to what was essentially the wild west of advertising.
Long story shot, advertisers were knowingly, or unknowingly creating audiences that discriminated by ethnicity and age, and in response, policymakers forced Meta to seriously limit how targeting could occur through their platform.
Ads for Housing, Politics, and Lending got hit the hardest, as Meta rolled out a specific set of guidelines for campaigns that fell in those categories.
You can read more about the history of Special Ads categories and the recent settlement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development that was intended to prevent misuse of ad targeting through the included link.
Special Ads Audiences are Dead
There was one saving grace to these policy changes: Special Ad Audiences. This audeince type allowed us to create “Lookalike Audiences” of people who were already visiting and engaging with our brands. Basically, we could upload a list of current customers, and Facebook would find other users who shared common behaviors and interests based on the profiles of the people we uploaded.
Unfortunately, special ads audiences were sunset in June of 2022.
Promoting Your Building through Social Ads - July, 2022 and Onwards
With virtually no great options for audience targeting on Meta, advertisers are forced to go broad in our audience selection. Location targeting today is typically restricted to a minimum size of 10 miles, which creates huge starting audiences for most of us looking to play the ad game and can be a serious challenge in densely populated cities.
This leaves advertisers with one choice – broad audience targeting.
How to effectively leverage broad audience targeting:
Meta and other social ads platforms like TikTok and SnapChat all allow you to optimize your campaigns for events, or actions taken by people who engage with your ads. On a basic level, this could mean optimizing for “Clicks” to your website, but more advanced campaigns can use “Lead” or even “Customer” events as an optimization target.
As your ad reaches more people and people complete event triggers on your website, the algorithm begins to learn about the people most likely to convert.
But there is a catch: in order to use event optimization to tailor your audience, you need to get your campaign out of what’s called “Learning Mode” - it’s essentially purgatory for your ad campaigns that keeps the algorithm prospecting for the best audience.
In order to get out of Learning Mode, you need to select an event that receives at least 50 triggers per week.
Today - broad audience targeting with some geofencing is the best way to reach your ideal customer. It’s a strategy best reserved for companies who can afford to spend unti the algorithm picks up on your target customer, but it can be an effective way to balance out good targeting in an ever more competitive environment.
Good data is the key to event optimization:
There is a catch. Event optimization is only as good as the data your website is sending and your ad campaign is receiving.
Unfortunately good data has also been harder and harder to come by due to Apple iOS privacy updates. This has led to major shortcomings with the Facebook Pixel, and any tracking that was set up prior to iOS 14 privacy changes.
Fortunately, most social media platforms have been rolling out “Conversion API’s” to support accurate tracking of user events, and it’s a must have integration to leverage the broad audience optimization strategy mentioned above. Meta and other platforms have been investing in simpler and simpler methods to leverage the conversion api through direct tie in’s to popular website building tools like Wordpress, which has made the technology more accessible to businesses.
Geotargeting Alone Isn’t The Answer.
But it is an essential part of any advertising campaign in the apartment or rental home space.
In an increasingly competitive advertising environment, advertisers need to create more robust campaigns to stay relevant. Of course, Geotargeting is one of the foundational elements of any ad campaign, but geotargeting alone isn’t going to get you very far. Advertising success in this day and age requires layers of targeting, good data sources, finger stopping creative, and accurate analytics.