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Facebook, Credit Unions and Credit Opportunity Ads

“Your ads have been disapproved…”

Facebook Advertising for Credit Unions

Many credit unions are receiving ad denial emails after attempting to enhance their Facebook ad campaigns. These denials are part of a settlement reached between anti-discriminatory groups and Facebook resulting in new policies that took effect in August of this year.

While your current ad campaigns might still be approved, once you make any changes to them, or create new ones, they will immediately fall into the special “credit opportunity” ad category and will not be approved.

How Do Facebook’s New Policies Affect Credit Unions?

Credit unions will need to change how they create and deploy ad campaigns from here on out. This is because products offered by your credit union—think loans, mortgages, credit cards, auto loans and long-term financing—currently fall under the wide net of “credit opportunities.”

Now, we understand that may not be what you’re doing at all. But even if you’re not advertising a specific “credit opportunity,” your ads will still land on your credit union website, raising a red flag for Facebook. For example, ads that land on pages that include “Get a Loan” or similar calls to action in the navigation, or directly on the site, have been disapproved based on this new policy.

It’s important to note that the changes to Facebook Advertising apply to company-owned Instagram as well as Facebook Messenger.

The Settlement Between Civil Rights Advocates & Facebook

Why the change? Civil rights organizations and labor groups including the National Fair Housing Alliance and the Communications Workers of America alleged that Facebook’s advertising platform enabled discrimination in housing, employment and credit advertising. The settlement closes five lawsuits that were filed against Facebook between 2016 and 2018.

Facebook agrees that ads promoting “credit opportunities” might lead to unnecessary discrimination. The platform encourages companies to broaden their market for the sake of inclusivity, not discrimination.

According to Facebook’s statement in March 2019, “There is a long history of discrimination in the areas of housing, employment and credit, and this harmful behavior should not happen through Facebook ads.”

The Biggest Challenges Facing Credit Unions on Facebook

According to Facebook, advertisers will no longer be able to use the Lookalike Audience tool.

“If you are in or want to reach people in the U.S. with ads that offer housing, employment or credit opportunities, you must now select the corresponding Special Ad Category in Ads Manager or your ad will not be able to run.”


“These ads will not allow targeting by age, gender, ZIP code, multicultural affinity, or any detailed options describing or appearing to relate to protected characteristics.”

Although this is Facebook’s attempt to prevent discrimination within ad campaigns, this change creates unique challenges for credit unions.

Promotion for Ad Campaigns for Specific Branches

The biggest challenge associated with the change is the inability to target using zip codes. According to the settlement, ads must have a minimum geographic radius of 15 miles from a specific address or from the center of a city.

This makes it impossible to promote ad campaigns for specific credit union branches. And with some credit unions having multiple branches in several locations for business, this creates a damaging ripple effect.

For credit unions who use age targeting for mortgages or student credit card ads, it’s now impossible to do so with restrictions to age groups.

Audience Overlap

Chances are, you might have many ad campaigns going at the same time to the same audiences. However, with the changes to Facebook Ads, you now run the risk of advertising to the same audience, competing against your own ads, thus increasing your ad costs.

The Greatest Facebook Ad Opportunities for Credit Unions

Is there any way around the challenges? Although these changes may negatively impact credit unions’ current ad campaigns, there are still Facebook ad opportunities that credit unions should take advantage of for their new campaigns.

Special Audiences

When placing an ad inside a Special Ad Category, you also have the option to select a Special Audience. These audiences comply with the restrictions associated with your campaign’s Special Ad Category. Although it won’t target using age, gender or other potentially discriminating demographics, our initial results show that new Special Audience categories still prove to generate solid results.

How do Special Audiences work? Special Audiences replace Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences. Facebook created them to analyze internet habits and interest behavior, instead of demographic data. This means the platform uses patterns to identify customers with similar interests and behaviors to target.

Content Promotion

There’s an opportunity to do more content promotion using your guides, resources and how-to articles to generate new customers and leads. For example, you can develop and promote an eBook that details one of your products or services, while providing education to your customers.

These promotional campaigns are much higher up in the funnel, however, and make it difficult to track the conversion back to the Facebook ad. But these campaigns do tend to generate traffic at a much lower cost per landing page than other campaigns.

Plus, these campaigns can help build trust within your audience, positioning you as an expert in your specific industry. In addition, potential leads from these campaigns tend to be warmer than leads generated earlier in the funnel.

Remarketing Campaigns

Remarketing campaigns target customers who have already visited your website in the past. With these changes, Facebook remarketing campaigns become much more important, especially if your campaigns support targeted email, marketing automation or marketing done through other resources.

Facebook Advertising Is Still a Great Option—You Just Need to Know the Ropes

Although these changes come with their challenges, Facebook Advertising is still a great option for credit unions. After all, the cost per landing page and conversion are often lower than other paid platforms. You simply need to know the ropes of using the platform as a business within this industry.

WebRanking helps credit unions and regional banks take back control of their Facebook Advertising with custom-tailored digital marketing services. The changes you must make are something you shouldn’t attempt to do alone.

To learn more about Facebook advertising for credit unions or for help with your ad campaigns, give us a call at 877-793-3975 or send us a message today.

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