Recently, many companies large and small have been taking steps to be more inclusive, and Google is no exception. In an effort to prevent ads for products and services related to housing, employment, and credit from being targeted in ways that could be considered discriminatory, Google worked with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to develop a new policy restricting the ways they can be targeted.
What are the Changes?
Under the new rules, which went into effect on October 19, 2020, ads for many types of services in these categories can no longer be targeted based on marital status, parental status, zip code, age, or gender. These new restrictions are in addition to other factors that had been previously restricted, like race, religion, and personal hardships. The restrictions apply to all ad formats in all channels for ads being served in the United States and Canada.
After announcing these new restrictions, Google shared some specific examples of exactly which types of services/products the new restrictions would apply to. In the case of financial institutions like banks and credit unions, these new restrictions likely wouldn’t apply to all of their services across the board. According to Google, ads for credit cards and all types of loans would all have restricted targeting, but ads for checking accounts would not. Or with housing-related ads, the targeting restrictions do apply to ads for real estate agents and ads promoting individual homes for sale, but not to ads for home design services or hotels and other vacation rental properties.
These changes are similar to policy changes made by Facebook in 2019 for ads related to credit, employment, and housing. But while Facebook has put some limits on interest-based and custom intent targeting options, Google has said they have no plans to do so.
Should I Worry About These Changes?
Given that we work with clients in the financial services industry, this is naturally a change we’ve been watching very closely. The good news is that if these restrictions would apply to you, this change might not necessarily be all that bad. For one thing, it’s not exactly clear how effective those restricted demographic filters are to begin with. A lot of users end up being grouped into the “Unknown” category, so even if, for example, we had an ad that would be beneficial to target a certain age range, there could be other ways to effectively target the intended audience.
Even with the restrictions on these particular demographics, there are still plenty of other ways to target ads. Factors like household income, level of education, and broad geographic areas like city, country, state, and county can all still be used. We generally tend to target ads based on interest, intent, and behavior rather than broad demographic factors.
Online advertising comes with a lot of challenges, but we are constantly watching out for these types of changes so that we can prepare our paid media clients to get ahead of the curve. As part of our paid media services, we work hard to make sure you get the best results possible from your ads. Contact us today to find out how we can help you reach your goals.