| Marketing Strategy 4 Min Read

The main focus (and general definition of success) of your overall real estate marketing strategy is always to reach the right people, at the right time, with the right messaging; but if you rely heavily on digital advertising to do that, things are probably already getting more difficult for you, and they’ll continue to do so into 2022.

And that’s because the rules around digital advertising have changed (and are continually changing) in a big way.

There has never been a year quite like the one we just had where digital advertising has gone through as many changes as it did, and a lot of them impact real estate agents and real estate marketing directly.

There’s 2 main reasons these changes have been implemented by advertising and technology companies:

  1. To address privacy concerns
  2. To address fairness and equality concerns

Changes Over Privacy Concerns

Privacy is a big issue for many, with more and more people being concerned with how big tech companies are using their data; and as a result, those big tech companies have responded to meet the needs and address the concerns of the public to earn their trust.

Apple, for example, (who as doubled-down on their efforts to make things more private than ever) even goes so far as to say that “privacy is a fundamental human right”, and has built out an entire page online that talks about how they’re putting privacy first when they plan their products and services (you can read about it right here).

Earlier this year, Apple also changed the way data can be used by advertisers when it introduced the AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) Network (you can learn more about it right here if you’re interested), and the introduction has a direct implication on real estate advertising.

Essentially, when someone downloads an app (including ones that are built on the foundation of advertising, like Facebook/Meta, Instagram, etc), those apps now need to ask for permission to access the person’s device, and as part of that, explain what they plan on doing with that data. With privacy as important as it seems to be for consumers, you can imagine how many people opt out.

Companies like Apple will only continue to tighten the way advertisers and companies can use the data from people that use their applications in the future.

And while most people would argue that privacy is a good thing, for advertisers, privacy also means anonymity; and purely from an advertising perspective, that’s a bad thing because it means your ads are less targeted, and that you’ll be paying to show your ads to a lot of people that aren’t interested in your real estate services because they aren’t part of your target audience.

★ Want to read more about real estate advertising? Have a look at these posts:

All of that means that if you’re an agent that relies on advertising on platforms like Facebook/Meta and Instagram for your lead generation strategy, you’ll probably need to change what you’re doing because of ATT.

Changes Over Fairness and Equality Concerns

In the last year, most of the major advertising platforms (like Facebook/Meta and Google Ads), made a lot of substantial changes to their applications by introducing rules that make it so advertisers can no longer disproportionately target people based on demographics if your business falls under a specific categories, which real estate advertising does.

Overall of course, that’s a good thing, but again, because real estate related ads fall under this category, it does force advertising campaigns to be less targeted.

It’s called the ‘special housing’ category, and under that category, you can no longer target people based on a number of different factors, like age, exact location, gender, etc.

For example, if you ran a Facebook ad campaign to attract sellers in a specific neighborhood, because real estate related ads are in the special housing category, you can’t narrow down the location to a specific neighborhood, and instead, you’ll probably have to target a much larger area.

A similar variation of rules applies to Google ads. For example, because real estate ads fall under their housing special category, you can’t exclude people by age (or a number of other demographics), or your ads will be stopped.

And of course, that’s likely to make your traditional advertising strategies a lot less effective if you can’t directly include or exclude based on your target audience.

While that’s being done so that advertising is fair and equal, it also makes advertising a lot more difficult for real estate agents, and in some instances, totally useless to do.

As mentioned above, if you rely on advertising on Facebook/Meta, then your strategy will really need to change, because not only are you impacted by ATT, but also, by Facebook’s adoption of fairness and equality via the special housing category.

This means that your advertising, wherever you do it, will be far less targeted, and as a result, your advertising campaigns will need to be a lot more general to be effective.

★ Want to learn more about lead generation? Have a look at this post called: What To Do If You Have a Real Estate Lead Generation Problem.

How Can You Adapt?

Time will tell if people prefer to see ads that are irrelevant to them (because they aren’t being targeted and have anonymity) instead of ads that are highly relevant to them based on how their data is being tracked, stored, and used; but with anonymity, safety of personal data, and privacy continuing to be important to consumers, there’s probably more changes on the way for digital advertisers in 2022.

While you can certainly adapt your advertising strategy to work better in advertising’s changing landscape, another option is to pivot what you’re doing entirely and rely less on advertising as a way for people to find you, and instead, focus on search, content, and inbound marketing.

Want to get better, more qualified leads and build your authority? Our inbound marketing guide is a walkthrough of the overall philosophy of inbound marketing, why it’s effective, and how you can build it into your own real estate marketing strategy to get better marketing results.
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