A target audience for a Google Ad campaign.Back in June, Google announced changes to its advertising personalization policies with the intent of preventing unlawful discrimination for housing, employment and credit products or services in both the US and Canada. Although Google claims to have been working with the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development on these changes for “some time”, AdAge points out that these changes are being rolled out during a time when social and political movements within the country have prompted many companies and industry leaders to take a closer look at their campaigns and advertising technology to see if any discriminatory practices are in place.

Despite the new policy’s best intentions of preventing discrimination and fostering inclusivity, the details are a little confusing. So, in this post we’re diving into the details on what specific types of businesses are impacted or likely to be impacted, what is still allowed and what is no longer allowed in terms of targeting. We’re also offering a few suggested strategies to help ensure your ads are seen by your target audience.

Specific Types Of Businesses Impacted By The Personalization Policy Changes

Not every type of housing, employment and credit business is impacted by the new policy changes. Here are some details on which business are likely to be impacted:

  • Housing – This category pertains to homes (defined as any place that a person might reside – single or multi-family home, apartment, townhome, condo) for sale or rental and includes individual properties for sale or rental, real estate services and residential property listing sites. According to Google, demographic targeting for the following housing services may not be restricted due to the policy changes: home design services, property management services, property inspection or escrow services, hotels, vacation rentals, office building or office space rentals.
  • Employment – This category pertains to job listings for any business, including freelance or “gig job” listings and job search databases. It also pertains to job recruitment services and any other services for job seekers. According to Google, demographic targeting for the following employment services may not be restricted due to the policy changes: networking services, services for applicant management, employment training, career advice (note the distinction – ads for career advice are exempt, whereas ads for career services are not). Also, an exception to the policy is granted for cases in which “…targeting is based on a bona fide occupational qualification for a government job, which is defined under U.S. law as a qualification that is reasonably necessary for normal function of the job”.
  • Credit – This category pertains to advertisements for loans (e.g. auto loans, short-term personal loans, business-to-business leans, home loans), credit cards and other products of services related to credit lending such as car rentals, phone rentals and offers of credit. According to Google, demographic targeting for the following credit services may not be restricted due to the policy changes: checking accounts, gift cards, financial advice/guidance.

What’s No Longer Allowed In Terms of Audience Targeting

Google advertisers in any category are not allowed to target users based on race, religion,  sexual orientation, national origin or disability. In addition, under the new policy changes, Google advertisers of the housing, employment or credit products or services outlined above will not be able to target audiences in the US or Canada based on gender, age, parental status, marital status or zip code.

What Is Still Allowed In Terms of Audience Targeting

Google advertisers of the housing, employment and credit products or services outlined above may still target audiences in the US and Canada based on a variety of demographics, including:

  • Geo – by using the names of or using a radius around cities, counties, countries, DMA regions, local or national subdivisions, municipalities, places of interest, provinces, regions, states, “location by demographic” or airport. Note that Google will require a sufficiently large radius and/or a sufficiently extensive selection of locations in order to meet its minimum privacy thresholds. You’ll need to adjust your ad targeting if your selection does not meet these thresholds.
  • Household Income
  • Homeownership Status 
  • Education 
  • Detailed Demographics (excluding marital status and parental status as mentioned above)
  • Life Events (excluding “getting married” and “recently married”) 
  • In-Market (including Employment) 
  • Affinity – use this to reach people who have shown a high level of interest in a lifestyle category (e.g.  Sports & Fitness/Sports Fans, Food & Dining / Cooking Enthusiasts, etc.)
  • Custom Affinity – set up custom audience to reach people who have shown a high level of interest in a very specific lifestyle category (e.g. Cooking Enthusiasts who are into gluten-free recipes or Sports enthusiasts who follow the Celtics)
  • Custom Intent – use this with display ads to reach people who have shown a particular interest or purchase intention.
  • Similar Audiences – use this to extend the reach of your current campaign by targeting new users with characteristics similar to those of your website visitors.

Additional Strategies To Reach Your Target Audience

In addition to targeting using the many demographic options that are still permitted for housing, employment and credit products or services, be sure that you’re utilizing retargeting (sometimes referred to as remarketing) strategies. Here are some examples of audiences that you may want to serve up ads to:

  • Prior visitors to your website, or even to specific pages or sections of your website.
  • Visitors of other, relevant websites or blogs.
  • In-market audiences – use this to target an audience created by Google as being “in-market” for a particular product or service. Google offers a wide-range of in-market audiences (e.g. Real Estate/Residential Properties/Residential Properties (For Rent)/Apartments (For Rent), Employment/Accounting & Finance Jobs, /Financial Services/Credit & Lending/Auto Loans)

We can help you focus your paid search efforts to maximize benefit and minimize wasteful spending. Call periscopeUP today at (443) 475-0787 for a consultation.