What Financial Marketers Need to Know About Facebook’s New Special Ad Categories

As a financial institution, you probably run a lot of Facebook ads promoting credit opportunities. So it’s important that you know about some new rules created by Facebook that could change how you target ad audiences for mortgages, auto loans, credit card offers, and other financial products that involve credit.

Facebook has long asked its advertisers to follow nondiscriminatory policies. Still, it has recently faced lawsuits accusing it of violating American anti-discrimination laws by allowing advertisers running credit, employment, and housing ads to choose their audience based on protected categories like gender, age, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or marital status.

Now, to prevent discrimination, Facebook is implementing new rules. Facebook now requires advertisers to identify themselves as running credit, employment, or housing ads, and the site is limiting the amount of audience targeting advertisers can do for these types of ads.

All new or edited ad campaigns must now comply with these rules or risk being paused until they are changed.

Here’s what you need to know before advertising your next credit opportunity or housing opportunity on Facebook:


The process of creating a new ad campaign in Ads Manager is a little different now, thanks to these new rules. Once you start creating a new campaign, you’ll see a message about the new rules and you’ll be prompted to check the “Special Ad Category” box if applicable. Then, you’ll choose your ad category: Credit, Employment, or Housing.

The big changes come when you go to build your campaign’s audience.

special ad category screenshot

Special Ad Category dropdown screenshot

New Audience Targeting Rules

Companies advertising credit, employment, or housing opportunities can no longer build audiences using the following targeting options:

  • Age. Options are fixed to include ages 18 through 65+ and can’t be changed.
  • Gender. Options are fixed to include all genders and can’t be changed.
  • Zip Codes. You can still target your ad by location, but it will be served to people within a 15-mile radius of the city or address you choose, rather than to people in one or more zip codes.
  • Certain Details. Choosing an audience based on their race, religion, or certain other demographics, behaviors, or interests is no longer allowed.
  • Saved Audiences. Since these could have been created using targeting options that are no longer allowed, they are no longer available.
  • Lookalike Audiences. Since these could select people in a way that is no longer allowed, they are no longer available. But a similar option called “Special Ad Audiences” is now available that lets you build an audience whose online behavior is similar to that of your most loyal consumers, without excluding people in a potentially discriminatory manner.

Audience targeting on Facebook ads

In some situations, these new rules may warrant approaching your creative in a broader way. For example, design your next Facebook ad for a credit card promotion to appeal to both women and to men, and to people of all ages (if you weren’t already doing so) in order to elicit the highest click-through rates.

Too busy to keep up with every social media marketing change? No problem. Let us do it for you. LIGHTSTREAM’s team can not only write and design impactful ads for your bank or credit union, but also manage your social media campaigns too. Reach out to learn more.