Heads up, multifamily marketers: Your Facebook ads could be more expensive during the 2024 Presidential election season.
Politicians spent $84 million on Facebook ads alone leading up to the 2022 midterms, which resulted in rising prices for all ads, more competition for visibility, and, specifically for apartment communities, a visible cap on traffic and leads.
But political spending isn't the only external factor that could impact the price and performance of your Facebook ads.
Let's look at what happened at two properties to understand the challenges that may lie ahead for multifamily social media marketing in 2024, and discuss how to prepare for the impact on your community's Facebook campaigns.
Political spending on Facebook affects all multifamily advertisers
We studied the digital ads for a pair of A-class apartment communities near Atlanta, Georgia, where contentious election battles for the state's gubernatorial and senatorial seats in 2022 garnered national attention, to see how a massive increase in spending for political advertising on social media affected performance.
Both communities have more than 200 units and rents averaging close to $1,500/month. They chose to advertise on Facebook in addition to Google Ads (which bans political advertising) because larger luxury apartments typically need more marketing sources to attract their ideal resident profile.
While both communities' Google campaigns worked excellently, the more significant takeaway was the weakening performance in their Facebook ads from June 2022 to the November election run-up, which matches the same period when political spending ramped up.
Community A Results
The interesting side story for Community A was that it was in a lease-up during the 2022 election cycle, which meant its marketing investment and need for traffic and leads were even greater than usual.
Its spending stayed at $25/day on Facebook ads, but in mid-August, three months before Georgia's election, spending increased to $35/day.
However, at the same time that its daily Facebook ad budget increased, the amount of paid visitors to its community website steadily decreased.
Community B Results
On the other hand, Community B was a stabilized property experiencing a typical busy leasing season, going from over 97% occupancy in the spring to 91% during peak leasing season, before returning to its target of 95% between June and November.
Its Facebook spending reflected the up-and-down need for paid website visitors, going from $0/day to $13/day, down to $7/day, which is typical for the turnover occurring in summer.
Yet, similarly to Community A, once it got closer to the election (and into the slower leasing season), spending actually increased to $14/day. Still, the paid website traffic generated from those Facebook ads never grew correspondingly. Instead they appear to have plateaued.
As we head into the next presidential election, the amount of money the campaigns invest into Facebook ads, and the national audience they'll target, will make it much more expensive and difficult for your apartment communities' ads to gain traction.
One possible explanation for the weakening in Community A's and Community B's Facebook ads is that it occurred simultaneously with increased political spending.
Why did this occur? Facebook prohibits multifamily marketers from specifying a target audience for their ads as that violates Fair Housing Laws. Instead, you're only allowed to target specific geographic locations.
When the politicians in Georgia's hotly-contested elections pumped all that money into Facebook, they were able to target anyone of voting age within the same geographic region as Community A and Community B. And as those ads had a much larger budget behind them, it was easier for Facebook to display them way more often—essentially rendering those apartment ads much less effective, even if the price those communities were paying had increased.
So, as we head into the next presidential election, the amount of money the campaigns invest into Facebook ads, and the national audience they'll target, will make it much more expensive and difficult for your apartment communities' ads to gain traction—wherever you're located.
Seasonality will also impact performance of your apartment's Facebook campaigns
The other external factor that you will need to pay attention to with your Facebook ads in 2024 is seasonality.
When reviewing how political spending impacts apartment advertising on Facebook, we looked into ad performance for Community B in a non-political season, 2021, to see if there was a noticeable difference.
The web traffic the community's Facebook ads generated falls closely in line with typical seasonality patterns—traffic (demand) was highest in peak leasing season, and lowest during winter months.
Community B's Facebook ad performance in 2021
While 2021 was a unique year where most apartments were full (less renters wanted or needed to change their living situation), there's enough data to suggest the obvious: When fewer people are actively searching for an apartment, it affects the performance of your Facebook ads.
That multifamily advertisers can only target audiences by geographic location again comes into play here. As was the case with the increase in political spending, Community B was spending more per day on Facebook ads, but wasn't seeing the desired return on traffic.
When fewer people are actively searching for an apartment, it affects the performance of your Facebook ads.
When apartment demand is down, it's also less incentivizing for Facebook to push apartment ads.
Advertising is the platform's top source of income, and the company charges advertisers based on either the number of impressions their ads get (shown on someone's feed), or the number of times an ad gets clicked.
When there aren't enough people within a specified geographic region looking for an apartment, any Facebook ad for an apartment will get less engagement. And once Facebook recognizes that apartment ads aren’t getting clicks, its algorithms will opt to show other advertisements that are more likely to generate profit in that season.
How should multifamily marketers prepare?
The major lesson to take from all this is that when marketing your apartment communities on Facebook, there can be a lot of things outside of your control. We expect that political spending, alongside changes in seasonality, could be external factors that once again impact your Facebook campaigns in 2024.
It's also clear that with multifamily advertising in general, there's no such thing as a 'set it and forget it' approach. You need to develop a marketing plan that includes other deployable ad sources, like Google, and stay on top of each platform's performance.
With multifamily advertising in general, there's no such thing as a 'set it and forget it' approach
Sometimes, it's hard to explain why one platform begins to outperform the other. But that doesn't matter if you're utilizing RentVision's advanced PPC solution built exclusively for multifamily.
With it, you don't have to think about which ad platform to focus more resources on—our algorithms automatically optimize spending across all your ad platforms daily to deliver the ROI and traffic you need.
To our clients, know that the effect of political spending will minimally impact your social media ads. We'll continually measure the cost-effectiveness of your ads using the Cost Per Engaged Visit (CPEV) metric, and automatically allocate your ad spend to the best-performing platforms. This ensures that, if the CPEV of your Facebook campaigns rises, you'll still get the most out of your advertising budget and keep your occupancy right where you want it.
- Political spending on Facebook ads is expected to increase during the 2024 Presidential election season, leading to higher ad costs and increased competition for visibility.
- Two A-class apartment communities near Atlanta, Georgia, experienced challenges with their Facebook ads during that state's 2022 election cycle, which may foreshadow issues for multifamily social media marketing in 2024.
- Facebook's limitations in targeting compared to Google Ads make it more difficult and expensive for apartment communities to achieve effective results on the platform during election seasons, as well as seasons of lower demand. Marketers ought to diversify their digital ad strategies beyond Facebook, and constantly measure the performance of each ad platform.