For real estate agents, choosing the correct category for your campaign is an important part of following Facebook's Advertising Policies, which include policies related to Fair Housing Guidelines.

If you’re creating a campaign which is related to any of Facebook's Special Ad Categories you must identify it as such. These categories apply to ads that have specific requirements in certain countries, such as authorization and “Paid for by” disclaimers for issue, electoral and political ads or limited audiences selection tools for ads about credit, employment or housing opportunities to help protect people on Facebook from unlawful discrimination.

Please note: At the date of the creation of this article, selection of special ad categories when creating ads can only be done when using Ads Manager (part of Business Manager), same goes for some of the audience selection options listed below. If you neglect to select a special ad category, or create an ad in a location which doesn't allow you to make the selection, Facebook will deny your ad in their internal review process prior to it being shown to consumers.

What content requires a special ad category?

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, homeowners insurance, mortgage insurance, mortgage loans, housing repairs and home equity or appraisal services. This does not include ads designed to educate consumers or housing providers about their rights and responsibilities under fair housing laws.

Audience selection tools for Special Ad Categories

Once the selection of a special ad category is made, certain audience targeting options will no longer be available. This includes Lookalike Audiences. However, to help you reach people who may be interested in your ad, you can create a Special Ad Audience, which will create an audience based on similarities in online behavior and activity but that does not use certain categories, including age, gender, ZIP code or other similar categories.

A Special Ad Audience uses existing information you have (Ex - a spreadsheet of past clients) about the people you want to reach to create a new audience with similar online behavior. It's like Lookalike audiences, but adjusted to comply with the audience selection restrictions associated with your campaign's chosen Special Ad Category and our ad policies.

You may also use audiences which were created through uploading a list of people you already had - for example, a list of past clients. The list you upload will be cross-checked against Facebook's database of existing user accounts. So in order for accounts to be matched, information like email addresses, cell phone numbers, names, etc needs to be included. Due to privacy restrictions, you will never know which accounts have been matched - only how many.

For ads in certain special categories (Credit, Employment or Housing), the following audience options are different or unavailable:

  • Locations: You can target your ads to people by geographic location (such as country, region, state, province, city or congressional district), but not by ZIP code. Specific locations you select will include a 15-mile radius around that targeted city, address or pin-drop. For example, if you want to reach people in the city of Seattle, your audience will also include people within a 15-mile radius of Seattle’s city center.
  • Age: You can’t edit this option. Audiences must include ages 18 through 65+.
  • Gender: You can’t edit this option. Audiences must include all genders.
  • Detailed Targeting: Some demographic, behavior and interest options are unavailable. Excluding any detailed targeting selections is also unavailable.

How to setup a Special Ad Category campaign

  • Create a new campaign and select Special Ad Category.
  • Add your category, then select your marketing objective and follow the prompts. 
  • To create your new audience source, go to the Audience section of your ad set and either create/select a Custom Audience from existing information, or select Special Ad Audience to reach new people.