How Special Ad Audiences On Facebook Affect Your Dealership

Facebook has recently made another change to its advertising policies and it will have a direct effect on the automotive industry; especially in the way dealers target and market to new shoppers in their area. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the “Special Ad Audience”. The special ad audience was recently implemented by Facebook in order to continue its mission of creating a more inclusive advertising space within its platform, but this added audience comes with some limitations; however, there is a strategy to work around this change.

What type of ads falls into the “Special Ad Audience” category?

Ads that market to consumers promoting anything relating to housing, credit (of any kind), or employment are fair game for the Special Ad Audience. Facebook breaks these categories down further with the following:

  • Credit Opportunity: Ads that promote or directly link to a credit opportunity, including but not limited to credit card offers, auto loans, personal or business loan services, mortgage loans, and long-term financing. This also includes brand ads for credit cards that include a specific credit offer.
  • Employment Opportunity: Ads that promote or directly link to an employment opportunity, including but not limited to part- or full-time jobs, internships or professional certification programs. Related ads that fall within this category include promotions for job boards or fairs, aggregation services or ads detailing perks a company may provide, regardless of a specific job offer.
  • Housing Opportunity or Related Service: Ads that promote or directly link to a housing opportunity or related service, including but not limited to listings for the sale or rental of a home or apartment, homeowner’s insurance, mortgage insurance, mortgage loans and home equity or appraisal services. You can include the Equal Opportunity Housing logo and slogan to help differentiate your ads as non-discriminatory.

What’s the big deal?

You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal – just another box to check?”, and that is where you would be wrong. Any ads that fall under the special audience category will now have the following limitations:

  • Limited target radius of 15 miles around your location
  • The age range of the audience cannot be edited
  • Gender of the audience cannot be edited
  • Specific interests cannot be specified from within Facebook for this audience

What does this have to do with my dealership’s Facebook Ads?

For the purpose of the automotive industry, let’s focus on “credit opportunity”. Any payment term that runs longer than 90 days, which in almost all cases would be an automotive loan, falls under the special audience category. Now we roll in all of the above-mentioned limitations and you have a very limited Facebook Ad campaign on your hands. You may be thinking that you have a working around – create an ad that doesn’t include any limiting factors and just land them on a page on our website that gives them the incentive and credit information. Sorry, landing pages and SERPs still apply. If Facebook finds you trying out this “black hat” work-around your dealership will be on it’s the way to being non-compliant and blocked from Facebook Ads.

How can a dealer keep their campaigns strategic?

Special ad audience does not limit third-party data. Dealers that work with social media provider that has access to third-party data are still confined by the 15 miles radius and demographic limitations, but they can include third party data in their clients’ campaigns that include vehicle make and model, in-market shoppers, and shoppers’ lifestyle.

Dealers who are working with marketing providers that do not have third-party data are completely beholden to the special ad audience restrictions. I encourage dealers to speak with their marketing provider about how they will be assisting your dealership with this most recent Facebook Ad update and if you don’t like the answer you receive, it may be time to look elsewhere so that your dealership’s monthly numbers are not affected by these advertising limitations.

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Tabitha Flythe
Tabitha Flythe is a seasoned traditional and digital marketing professional with expertise in content creation, graphic design, social media, analytics, project and event management. Her boots-on-the-ground work experience has enabled her to master a variety of skill sets. She has worked with a wide array of companies including the automotive industry, commercial real estate, residential real estate, multi-family property management, video animation, photography and politically affiliated organizations.