How to Exclude Mobile Apps on the Google Display Network Reviewed by Momizat on . I’ve finally found the Holy Grail to exclude mobile apps on the Google Display network from showing your ads. Don’t worry I’ll share it with you and make sure y I’ve finally found the Holy Grail to exclude mobile apps on the Google Display network from showing your ads. Don’t worry I’ll share it with you and make sure y Rating: 0
You Are Here: Home » Google » How to Exclude Mobile Apps on the Google Display Network

How to Exclude Mobile Apps on the Google Display Network

How to Exclude Mobile Apps on the Google Display Network

How To Exclude Mobile Apps on The Google Display Network or GDN

I’ve finally found the Holy Grail to exclude mobile apps on the Google Display network from showing your ads. Don’t worry I’ll share it with you and make sure you know exactly what to do to make it work. But before I do let me tell you what led up to this discovery and why I think it is so important.

Mobile App Traffic on GDN Rages Out of Control

Over the last couple months I have noticed a big uptick in mobile app traffic on GDN campaigns in AdWords. One of our clients in particular saw a 422% growth in clicks and a 480% increase in Cost overnight. That isn’t a small change! Interestingly, 98% of the change came from mobile apps and AdMob served ads.

Guess what happened to their GDN conversion volume?

It actually dropped and then stayed flat for days. You can get a good visual on what happened in the image below.

Mobile Apps Cost increases on GDN

I went through the usual double checking of segments. I also dug into ad groups to try to determine where that drop stemmed from. Turns out the entire shift happened via mobile devices with full browsers. This campaign went from 98k impressions, 48 clicks and $10 in spend on mobile one day. To 283k impressions, 578 clicks, and $185 in spend the next day, with no changes in bids or budget.

I immediately looked in the next logical place, the automatic placements report for GDN campaigns. Out of nowhere I saw a huge number of mobile app publishers within the placements, including “Mobile App: Anonymous AdMob Publisher” or “Mobile App: LOL pics”. Those are most definitely quality placements (please sense the sarcasm here).

Mobile Apps showing in GDN Automatic Placements

None of these apps had any relevance to this advertiser and the performance proved it. I started to add mobile apps to the negative placements list. But the list kept growing day after day.

What’s an Advertiser to do? Shut off Mobile?

I did the only thing I could find available at the time. I shut down Mobile on this campaign. The incremental conversions we had received before the app invasion, weren’t worth the new nuisance of constantly adding new mobile apps to the negative placement list.

And I’m not the only one who has had to do this in the past as Melissa Mackey pointed out.

Pausing GDN campaigns because of mobile apps

I was hoping this would be an isolated incident, but figured it probably wouldn’t be. Just recently Aaron Levy sent a tweet out asking for help on the #ppcchat hashtag on Twitter.

How do You Exclude Mobile Apps from the GDN?

Enhanced Campaigns & Mobile Apps on the GDN, it’s about the $$

Notice that Aaron wasn’t just having problems with apps on mobile phones, but also with tablets; which he hadn’t seen happen before.

Aaron is seeing this problem with Enhanced Campaigns in AdWords where we are given no control over tablets. This is going to become a bigger issue with the forced Enhanced Campaigns roll out in the near future. With most of the focus by PPC professionals on the impact enhanced campaigns will have on search campaigns it looks like Google Display Network is something we should watch for changes.

Clearly Google is trying to increase mobile and tablet revenue on the Google Display network as well. This will mean more automatic irrelevant mobile app placements, increased costs and higher CPA.

Is There Another Way to Block Apps on the GDN?

How do we combat this? Do we shut everything down on mobile for GDN campaigns? Do we keep manually adding the thousands and thousands of apps as negative placement for the Google Display Network? Or is there another possibility?

I have to hand it to Google AdWords and their Twitter team. They have really been starting to monitor things and respond with possible solutions. This was what Sarah on the Google Twitter team had to say about blocking apps on the GDN –

Adwords Response on blocking mobile apps

Now this rang a bell but with the all of the info and changes being thrown around I couldn’t really remember why.

After reading that tweet the first thing I did was go to “”. I was expecting a sales page about… well AdSense on Mobile apps, but what I actually found was an AdWords help article about showing ads on mobile apps. Buried under one of the drop downs was a little paragraph about blocking your ads from showing on mobile apps. I’m not sure it wanted to be found.

Making Sure your Ad doesn't show on Mobile apps

If you are not sure how to exclude mobile apps based off that little bit of info here are the steps for you to follow:

1) Go into your Display Network tab in AdWords

Display Network Tab in AdWords

2) Head to the exclusions are and make sure you are on placements

Exclusions and Placements Google GDN

3) You are likely going to want to add this to the Campaign not Ad group level and then click Add exclusions

Add Exclusions under campaigns

4) Simply add to the excluded placements. Make sure to not add a “www.” to the beginning!

Enter placement to exclude

That’s it! If you have multiple campaigns or ad groups to block mobile apps in, you can always use AdWords Editor (their bulk desktop editor) to do it quickly. Now you have a way to block mobile apps from showing your ads on the Google Display Network. How happy are you?

Have you had issues with mobile apps on the GDN? How did you deal with them? Let us know in the comments.

About The Author

The PPC Dictator

Bryant is a seasoned Paid Search Executive with over 9 years of experience. Known by many as The PPC Dictator, he specializes in consulting with Start-ups and Fortune 1000 companies on their Paid Media endeavors. He is hyper passionate about mobile and CRO. Having worked with companies from Choice Hotels & Greendot to start ups like Palo Alto Networks he has the skills needed to help your paid programs thrive! When he isn't busy rocking PPC, blogging, or tweeting, you will usually find him having fun with his wife & 4 kids. Connect with Bryant on - Google+ LinkedIn Twitter

Number of Entries : 32

Comments (18)

  • GDN Fanatic

    Awesome!! you just saved us hours of manual exclusions!!! will try them out and let you know if they work

  • Jenny

    Thank you!!!

    You can also add it to the shared library “Campaign placement exclusions”.

  • eljeffo

    I did this but I still get mobile app placements. :/

  • Jeroen Ritmeijer

    Just talked to my AdWords rep about this as we are getting loads of ridiculous hits from spammy mobile apps. The official way to do it is via the following, extremely intuitive, procedure:

    1. Open your campaign.
    2. Click the Display ‘Network tab’
    3. Click ‘Interests & remarketing’
    4. Open ‘Exclusions’
    5. Select ‘Categories’
    6. Click ‘Add exclusions’
    7. Select ‘GMob mobile app non-interstitial’ (Currently the last option in the list).

    That’s it. Easy.

    Now if only I could get rid of the remaining click fraud on the GDN.

    You can also use this to exclude content from Parked domains, error pages, juvenile and in-game content.

  • Brad McMillen

    Thank you, everyone, this post was incredibly helpful.

    I have a local air conditioning repair client who was getting clicks from highly relevant apps like Kids Tractor Tipping, Doctor X – Med School Game, and Princess Hair Salon. I hate to see them go (dripping with sarcasm).

    Thanks again, greatly appreciated!

  • Gary Maddock-Greene

    If only all articles across the web were as useful as this one :) Thank you Bryant. Much, much appreciated.


  • anonymous

    I have a question. Suppose I reduce the bid by -100% for Mobile, will my ads still show on Apps? I guess they won’t due to such a negative bid and I do not have to use the Excluded placement this way. Am I missing something here.

    But I’ll still show on Tables Apps if I am not mistaken.

  • AJ

    Great Bryant! i saw the increase in clicks on my campaign but no conversions and all where coming from mobile. I suspected it was the mobile apps…..

    Thanks again for sharing the info.

  • May Youhavegreatfortunes

    Looks like you now have to go to “Display Network” tab and click “Exclusions” at the bottom.

  • Kent Nielsen

    Hi, great article. I also just want to mention, that you can add your excluded placements in your share library and use them for multiple campaigns. That will save time if you have several campaigns in the Display network.



  • Tien Nguyen

    Access Settings / Devices, you will see a row with name: Mobile devices with full browsers
    Click on Bid Adj. value and change to 100% to decrease bit to $0.0 and you will never get click on mobile any more.

    • Bryant

      hey Tien You are right that you can adjust mobile bids to -100% which would be $0.00… however not all mobile traffic is necessarily bad traffic. It is mostly the random crappy mobile apps that are completely irrelevant that are the issue.

  • Jason Manion

    Awesome, thanks Bryant. I’m hoping this works – I was having issues with this, and just blocked mobile. Of course now my tablet traffic is way up, and it’s still all of these apps.

    • Bryant

      Jason, It should definitely work. That is exactly the problem I was running into as well. And in reality we don’t want to block all mobile traffic necessarily just the crappy non-relevant mobile app traffic. Let me know how it goes!

  • Andrew Johnson

    The fact that Google is intentionally making it difficult for advertisers is pretty appalling. They have conversion data from a huge chunk of advertisers. The amount of hours required to just understand how to correctly use the Adwords platform is steep enough. This isn’t the first time they have made certain behaviors intentionally difficult (“Enhanced” Campaigns), but it is the first time I have seen where they did it to encourage fraud.

    Anyone testing out Display Select? It has been around for a while but they have been repeatedly pushing it in the past few weeks. From what I am seeing, you can no longer do “Search and Display” but only “Search and Display Select.” Google may finally be switching, without making an explicit admission of guilt, and while spreading out the hit their revenues will take.

  • Oldest_SEO

    Greedy Google making people pay for that crappy traffic. If they gave a crap about businesses instead of being greedy money pigs would be defaulted to exclusions.

    I feel sorry for the Adwords newbies that pay for this crappy traffic. BAD GOOGLE


Leave a Comment

© 2013 Get Found First, LLC, All Rights Reserved.

Scroll to top