Without audience targeting are Google Ads Dead? Think again…
Early this month Google announced new restrictions for targeting specific audiences. The restrictions apply to content related to housing, employment, credit, and those who are disproportionately affected by societal biases. The news of these restrictions created quite a stir among industry brokers and lenders who heavily rely upon targeted Google ad campaigns. All which may have you asking if these changes will kill future reverse mortgage advertising on the world’s most popular search engine. In just a moment we’ll hear from our online SEO expert Josh Johnson to find out.
Google’s restrictions are not necessarily novel nor unexpected. It was just over two years ago Facebook faced scrutiny from federal regulators for allowing those offering credit or housing finance to restrict ad audiences by race or religion among other questionable metrics that would violate HUD’s fair housing rules. An investigation by ProPublica broke this news in October 2016. It was nearly two years later in August 2018 that HUD filed a formal complaint against the social media giant for discriminatory advertising practices. Seven months after HUD’s complaint Facebook announced sweeping changes. Both Facebook and later Google, took a blunt approach much to the chagrin of lenders and service providers.
What ad filters are going away? In its official release Google revealed, “credit products or services can no longer be targeted to audiences based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code.”
Is this the end of Google ads for reverse mortgages? To answer that question I reached out to Josh Johnson who heads up Reverse Focus’ Online Dominance SEO program and Google marketing. Here’s his explanation.
Here’s what makes Google unique from other platforms and why reverse mortgage Google ads will continue to reach the intended audience.
To summarize, older homeowners are intentionally seeking out reverse mortgage information on Google which means, yes-your ads will be seen by your target audience, even though you can no longer target specific age groups.
The Forbearance ‘Rescue’
Perhaps William R. Emmons, an economist with the Federal Reserve of St. Louis said it best. “We have no idea what the true state of the housing market is—or would be, hypothetically—because we’ve hit it with such a huge dose of morphine.” The morphine being mortgage forbearances Today over 2.6 million Americans are in a forbearance plan- and most certainly tens of thousands of these homeowners have reached the age to become eligible for a reverse mortgage. The message homeowners may want to ignore is despite repeated extensions allowing homeowners to pause payments or avoid eviction, a day of reckoning is coming.
Forbearance plans allow borrowers to reduce or pause payments while foreclosure moratoriums stop any pending foreclosures and subsequent evictions. To date, there have been five extensions of foreclosure and eviction moratoriums and one extension of the forbearance period for federally guaranteed mortgages. Prior to being sworn into office, President Biden called on Congress to extend moratoriums and forbearances through September of 2021. We could conceivably see foreclosure mitigation measures in place as long as two years after the COVID-19 pandemic hit our shores. So don’t be surprised to see more extensions into next YEAR should the tangled nest of delinquent mortgages become too politically & economically toxic to unwind.
Now on to the business of senior mortgage holders who find themselves in a forbearance plan. In the last year, I’ve called a reverse mortgage the ‘ultimate forbearance plan’. The question for you, our viewers, is
how would you market to older homeowners in your market who are currently in forbearance but uncertain as to how they will resume payments? That’s a question that will require your creativity and coordination with your lender’s compliance department.
If you do decide to reach out to this unique market here are a few considerations to keep in mind. Retired homeowners are typically on a fixed retirement income and thus have not seen a reduction in monthly income that would challenge their ability to stay current with payments. If their income reduction is permanent is this a home they can continue to afford? Naturally, it would be working seniors have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic and are more likely to apply for mortgage forbearance. Next, do those with a low to moderate mortgage balance want to recast their mortgage into a new 15 or 30-year term should the lender offer such an option or would they prefer to eliminate required monthly payments and accept a deferred but growing loan balance? Another consideration is there a reduction of income temporary or permanent? The last thing one wants to do is to use a long-term solution for a short-term problem. Then there are existing assets. Do they have access to accounts that they could tap into to meet their cash flow needs once the forbearance period ends? Would those withdrawals entail significant penalties or tax consequences?
The more we consider the complexities of an older homeowner in forbearance places, the wiser it seems to enlist the assistance of a financial professional. Either way, forbearances will end…eventually, and now is the time for older homeowners to make their exit plan instead of facing a financial crisis that could lead to them ultimately losing their home.
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