The Breakdown: Google Blocks Targeting for Housing, Employment, & Credit Opportunities
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The Breakdown: Google Blocks Targeting for Housing, Employment, & Credit Opportunities

Google Ads will begin blocking certain targeting options “as soon as possible” (by the end of 2020 at the latest) for offers in HEC (housing, employment, and credit).

From Google:

“This policy will prohibit impacted employment, housing, and credit advertisers from targeting or excluding ads based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP Code, in addition to our longstanding policies prohibiting personalization based on sensitive categories like race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, national origin or disability.”

WebMechanix interprets the intent of the policy to apply toward messaging, targeting, and bidding.

This change comes more than a year after Facebook announced and implemented a similar policy.

Taylor Mathauer, Paid Media Specialist, said, “After seeing a similar roll out from Facebook last year, it doesn’t surprise me how quickly Google was to follow. Multi-cultural affinity hasn’t been targeting criteria since 2017, but people have still been able to layer on other demographic data to get close to their target audience. While I’d like to think most advertisers aren’t maliciously trying to discriminate with their targeting, it happens. As time goes on, platforms like Google will continue to make changes like this to protect users’ privacy and prevent discrimination.”

WebMechanix media buying experts have been navigating this regulation on the Facebook and Instagram ad platforms.

When creating a campaign in Facebook, the advertiser must denote if the offer is in HEC. If selected, it automatically limits targeting options. If Facebook detects the offer as HEC, but the option isn’t selected, Facebook will first disapprove the ad and ask you to opt into HEC before moving forward. In the worst case, Facebook reserves the right to block your advertising account.

It’s unclear exactly how Google will implement their policy.

While Google hasn’t specified they’ll enforce this policy, we’re recommending clients re-evaluate how they use the parameters Google mentioned. That applies to messaging in your ads and landing pages, targeting, and bidding in-platform. Making proactive steps now to transition away from these segments without negatively impacting performance will prevent outages in the future.

About the writer
Ben Williams
Ben Williams
As Director of Paid Search at WebMechanix, Ben spends his time both developing his team's practice and hands-on to stay sharp.

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