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Google Policy Shift Could Impact Reverse Mortgage Advertisers

Reverse mortgage lenders using Google to target prospective borrowers will soon have to find another online advertising vehicle for their products and services.

The tech giant informed its advertisers that it will update its personalized advertising policies on October 19 to include new targeting restrictions for housing, employment and credit products to audiences based on age, gender, marital and parental status and ZIP code. The new policy, which was first reported in Reverse Mortgage Daily, will only apply to advertisements aimed at U.S. and Canadian users.

The new policy follows through on a statement published in June on Google’s corporate blog by Scott Spencer, VP of Product Management, Ads Privacy and Safety, which previewed policy changes that were formulated through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“This policy will prohibit impacted employment, housing, and credit advertisers from targeting or excluding ads based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code, in addition to our longstanding policies prohibiting personalization based on sensitive categories like race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, national origin or disability,” Spencer said.

While Spencer’s comments from June did not cite age-targeted advertisement, updated policy included that criteria in order to achieve what Google termed as “an effort to improve inclusivity for users disproportionately affected by societal biases.”

Although Google is presenting its policy shift as an effort to stamp out age-based discrimination, it also creates a problem for reverse mortgage lenders whose products are designed for a specific age group. The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is designed for borrowers aged 62 and older, while several proprietary reverse mortgage products can only be accessed by those ages 60 and higher.

Google has not released data on how much of its online advertising is based on reverse mortgage advertising. However, the sector had been poised for increased growth based on increasing levels of housing wealth among seniors. In the most recent data, homeowners 62 and older enjoyed a 1.6% increase in their housing during the first quarter of this year, reaching a record of $7.54 trillion, according to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association/RiskSpan Reverse Mortgage Market Index data released in June.

About Author: Phil Hall

Phil Hall is a former United Nations-based reporter for Fairchild Broadcast News, the author of nine books, the host of the award-winning SoundCloud podcast "The Online Movie Show," co-host of the award-winning WAPJ-FM talk show "Nutmeg Chatter" and a writer with credits in The New York Times, New York Daily News, Hartford Courant, Wired, The Hill's Congress Blog and Profit Confidential. His real estate finance writing has been published in the ABA Banking Journal, Secondary Marketing Executive, Servicing Management, MortgageOrb, Progress in Lending, National Mortgage Professional, Mortgage Professional America, Canadian Mortgage Professional, Mortgage Professional News, Mortgage Broker News and HousingWire.
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