The Building Blocks of a Successful Ad Campaign

Today's advertising options make it easy for anyone to launch an online campaign. For the best results, follow these steps:

1. Establish objectives

What do you want to accomplish? Ads can support many different aspects of your international business, including these and other goals:

  • Create awareness
  • Promote your service
  • Offer something
  • Publicize an event
  • Market a listing
  • Reach related professionals

Well-articulated objectives generate better advertising results, so don’t skip this essential step or move past it too quickly!

2. Determine your audience

Who are your best prospects? It’s expensive and ineffective to reach “everyone” with your ads. Instead, focus on defining your “perfect client.”

Ask yourself:

  • Where does my ideal customer currently live?
  • Where do they travel?
  • How old are they?
  • What is their household income?
  • What language(s) do they speak?

Further, your ideal customer may work in a particular industry or enjoy certain hobbies (like fishing or golf). Maybe they’re raising children—or they’re empty nesters. Each of these demographic details and many others can sharpen your efforts.

Online advertising platforms offer extensive targeting options that make it easy to pinpoint your best prospects and avoid spending extra money showing your ads to low-priority viewers.

Important caveat!

U.S. advertising ampaigns must comply with Fair Housing laws. Each U.S. state also has its own rules regarding property advertisements. There are also more complicated rules for advertising outside the property's jurisdiction. Further, there may be additional international requirements for certain countries. Seek legal counsel to ensure you are in compliance.

Notice: The information on this page may not be current. The archive is a collection of content previously published on one or more NAR web properties. Archive pages are not updated and may no longer be accurate. Users must independently verify the accuracy and currency of the information found here. The National Association of REALTORS® disclaims all liability for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information or data found on this page.

Member Snapshot

Brenda Taylor

Brenda Taylor, CIPS with RE/MAX Advantage in Lewisville, Texas, is originally from Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico and uses Facebook ads to target buyers in specific geographic markets who may be interested in her listings in Texas and Mexico. For example, she’ll research who is moving to Ciudad Del Carmen. Then, she’ll show ads promoting a listing to people in the top markets she’s identified, including Houston, Texas, several cities in California, and Calgary, Canada.

"For less than $10, I can reach over 5,000 people!"

- Brenda Taylor

3. Select your media

Facebook, Instagram, and Google are three of the most popular platforms for online advertising. Each offers unique advantages and drawbacks.

Consider other advertising options too. Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Yelp all accept business ads.

4. Create attention-getting ads

The best ads are a marriage of two essential elements—a compelling message supported by strong images.

When selecting photos, remember that quality matters. Take advantage of free editing tools to crop and enhance your images. Original photos (and videos) are best. However, if you’re using stock photography, look for images that don’t appear “staged.”

Lost for words? If you’re not sure how to describe your unique knowledge and skills as a CIPS designee, turn to NAR’s Global Marketing Center and borrow the language used in the ads, flyers, etc.

If lead generation is part of your strategy, make sure your offer is compelling and reduce friction by requesting as little information as possible (e.g., first name and email address).

Ad for and link to NAR Global's

Member Snapshot

Paul Daemen

Originally from Wichita, Kansas, Paul Daemen, CCIM, CIPS, CRS, moved to Nicaragua in 2015, where he’s the managing broker of Aurora Granada Colonial Realty and actively involved in several different aspects of global real estate, both residential and commercial.

An active user of paid ads and organic posts on multiple social media platforms, Paul refines his online strategy by maintaining multiple profiles, each tailored to different segments of his business.

“Commercial clients want to hear very different details than residential clients and each geographic location is unique. If I co-mingled this information into one business profile, it would dilute its value. That's why, for example, I use four different Twitter accounts."

"Commercial clients want to hear very different details than residential clients..."

- Paul Daemen

5. Set a budget

All the major online platforms offer powerful advertising management tools that make it easy to control and refine your budget. Each campaign has its own target audience and advertising spend.

6. Track your results

Tracking and reviewing results is the only way to know what works and refines your future efforts.

Experiment with A/B testing too (sometimes called “split testing”), where two slightly different ads are randomly displayed, to determine which ad performs better. All the major online platforms offer this.

If you’re advertising properties, include examples of your best results in listing presentations to demonstrate your ability to market homes to a global audience. Also consider showing your listing clients their individual advertising results, to keep them informed and impressed by your efforts.

Member Snapshot

Le Ann Dunne

Le Ann Dunne, CIPS, with Coldwell Banker in Iowa City, Iowa, has broad global niches that include the university's international community, her long-standing alliance with the local Latino community, building relationships with real estate professionals in Costa Rica, and most recently, Congolese refugees seeking a new start in her local market.

“It started with a sign call,” says Dunne. After helping one family, she continued cultivating relationships with the community, including launching the private Iowa Congo Family Home Group on Facebook, which posts home ownership resources in Swahili and English.

"It started with a sign call."

- Le Ann Dunne

7. Don't overlook free media

Stay active on social media—especially the platforms where you advertise—and share content that supports your budget.


Fair Housing Alert

The U.S. Fair Housing Act prohibits discriminatory practices when buying and selling homes, specifically regarding seven protected classes2:

  • race
  • sex
  • national origin
  • physical and mental handicaps
  • color
  • religion
  • familial status

Advertisements for a particular property that include or exclude people from a protected class may violate the Fair Housing Act. On the other hand, it is permissible to limit property advertisements among non-protected groups or to advertise free, valuable information (e.g., a seminar or downloadable guide) to a particular group.

Don’t count on Facebook’s advertising approval process to protect you. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) filed a formal complaint against Facebook in 2018 because the platform enables and invites advertisers to express unlawful preferences and limit housing options. Read more.

2Note that the REALTOR® Code of Ethics goes a step further, adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the seven classes protected under Fair Housing.

Exclusive CIPS Benefit: Advertising Discounts

Did you know you can access international advertising discounts via NAR's Marketing Center? Visit to view current offers from:


  • Canadian Real Estate Wealth
  • Real Estate Magazine


  • Juwai Global Property Catalog


  • Die Welt and Welt Am Sonntag

United Kingdom

  • A Place in the Sun
  • Property Professional

Brokers can also take advantage of advertising discounts with ListHubGlobal, to send listings to other countries.


About Global Perspectives

Global Perspectives in Real Estate is a resource for global professionals, aimed at helping them globalize their local markets. Produced bi-monthly, this newsletter serves as a how-to guide and is full of useful and actionable tips. A free subscription is given to all Certified International Property Specialists (CIPS) designees.

Learn more about earning the CIPS designation