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.
Canadian bank using reverse mortgages to bail out policyholders
You have to tip your hat to our fellow reverse mortgage professionals up north. Canada’s HomeEquity Bank is leveraging its CHIP Reverse Mortgage (once called the Canadian Home Income Plan) to help retirees strengthen their insurance strategies. But whoa…wait a minute. Aren’t lenders prohibited from cross-selling both reverse mortgages and insurance products much less ever slightly brushing up against the subject? Well, yes. Certainly for U.S. lenders and originators.
But back to our story from a recent column, we came across on the website Wealth Professional- Canada. It says the bank has come upon a specific strategy that was born from the analysis of insurance agent inquiries received by the bank’s wealth management division. And what they found is certainly not unique to Canadians. The wealth division was contacted by several insurance professionals who had well-established agencies; each with hundreds of previous and current policyholders. In life insurance parlance this is called a ‘book of business’.
The challenge is many of those older policyholders may find themselves unable to continue making premium payments. As a result, agents spend a significant portion of their time to conserve the policy- in essence, find a way to keep it from lapsing. “In addition to this, the underlying benefits in these legacy insurance policies that these agents were offering tended to have more benefits than similar policies that are issued today. In short, they are well worth keeping”, says the columnists James Burton and Darren Matte.
Having worked as an insurance agent many of these policies in danger of lapsing are likely cash-value contracts. Such policies build up an actual cash value and typically insure the policyholder until the age of 100. Whole life policies certainly cost more than term insurance therefore it’s not uncommon to see someone who has invested tens of thousands of premium dollars in the hope their family or estate will be paid upon their death. Letting the policy lapse for non-payment is a significant financial loss. In most instances, individuals only recoup a portion of premiums paid while the estate or heirs lose the death benefit.
Andrew Cairns, National Lead, Wealth Management at HomeEquity Bank, told Wealth Planner, “Essentially, what we can do is provide cash flow to keep the existing book of superior insurance products in force, as opposed to clients either cashing out or lapsing their policy. As much as we would like to see a 70-year-old qualify for a new insurance policy, they don’t qualify in quite the same way as they used to when they were in their 30s and 40s.” Not only that, retirees face a myriad of financial uncertainties including health care costs and long-term care. And how likely is a 70-year old to be approved and pass the rigorous medical underwrite process? Reading the column I began the appreciate the pragmatism of taking a portion of a home’s value that may have increased over half a million dollars in 20 years and using it not only to ensure that the original estate plan is met but that it is once again realistic.
In one hypothetical example, a single 65-year old male has a life insurance policy with a $400,000 death benefit he purchased 20 years ago. If he let the policy lapse his estate’s ultimate value would suffer significantly.
So what does HomeEquity Bank’s strategy have to do with us? After all, we cannot recommend nor sell life insurance. You would be correct. However, we can appreciate the incredible flexibility of a reverse mortgage, perhaps in ways we never considered before as a reverse professional. Do long-term insurance agents in your area find many of their older clients are letting policies lapse because of a cash flow crunch? If so, perhaps you can share this story with them. They cannot use the loan proceeds to purchase insurance but they certainly could preserve their policy and estate legacy by improving their cash flow by eliminating mortgage installments and other debts. Perhaps an old dog can learn new tricks after all.
***Do not give unlicensed financial advice. This presentation is only for educational purposes and opening possible avenues of discussion of how some homeowners could potentially use a reverse mortgage***