What are placement exclusion lists?​

What are placement exclusion lists?

It is virtually impossible to advertise online without using the Google Display Network, which helps businesses reach people with targeted display ads while they browse their favorite websites, watch YouTube videos, or use mobile devices and apps. 

When you place an ad on the Google Display Network you have the potential to reach over 90% of the people on the Internet, across 2 million websites. Your ads will appear across a diverse and sometimes random collection of websites, mobile apps, and video content.

However, just as you can target placements on the Google Display Network you want to make sure that you exclude ad placement that are eating into your marketing budget. So what can you do to improve your ad performance without manually going through every Google display network site, which would take years?

We have a shortcut for you!

Over the last half-decade, we have analyzed billions of placements and click-behavior.

But we didn’t stop there. We then combined placement data with user behavior data on the landing page of the advertiser, focusing on conversions/events. This enables you to automatically pre-block poor-performing URLs from future campaigns.

Placement Exclusions 101

If you’ve ever run a display marketing campaign before then placement exclusions won’t be anything new to you. Exclusions allow you to define which websites, apps, or channels you don’t want your ads to appear on.

Currently, over 2 million websites use Google’s AdSense network. And many simply aren’t suitable for your advertising. 

First, you need to stop your ads appearing on websites that are not relevant or low quality. An example of this would be an ad for a diesel car showing up on a blog about renewable energy. This ad would be a waste of money as any clicks would likely not result in a sale.

The placement exclusions tool on Google Ads gives businesses the power to control where their ads will appear before they launch a campaign. 

Key reasons to exclude certain websites

You might be asking yourself why should I be limiting my reach? This might seem strange given that you only pay for each click you receive. But as all marketing veterans know, there are five central reasons why you need to exclude certain websites from your digital marketing campaigns. 

1. Eliminate irrelevant websites

Some websites get a lot of clicks but not the clicks you want. It might be poor quality traffic coming from mobile apps or YouTube kids channels. Unless you pre-block these websites where your ad impressions might be clicked but most likely won’t result in a sale, your customer acquisition costs will soar. 

There might also be certain categories of websites that you should steer clear from like politics or religious websites. Bear in mind that, for example, If you sell software as a service, you don’t want to show ads next to skateboards. Some CTO’s skate, I hear you say, that may be true, but they’re probably not going to remember your software brand if they’re focused on buying a new skateboard. 

As a rule of thumb, you should make sure the content of the sites you show ads on is at least tied in some way to your product. 

2. Avoid click fraud

Ad fraud is a massive problem for advertisers. According to Statista, the costs related to digital advertising fraud, worldwide, will grow exponentially to 44 billion U.S. dollars by 2022. If you’re new to digital advertising, you’ve got a long road ahead. Because experienced marketers know their numbers back to front, which makes it easier to identify abnormalities in traffic metrics.

Nonetheless, you can avoid a lot of ad fraud by investigating websites with

  • High CTRs 
  • Low scores for low time-on-site, high bounce rate, low average session duration, etc.
  • Abnormal website traffic spikes 
  • A concentration of high web traffic only on your sponsored web pages (the ones for which you’ve purchased digital advertisements)

3. Save money

When you start every campaign with a placement exclusion list of hundreds of thousands of websites, which are automatically updated based on the latest performance metrics you save a lot of money. 

Usually, finding out that a website is a waste of money is only possible after a campaign by scrutinizing the placement performance report. This is a massive waste of money. You need to spend money for the privilege of finding out what websites perform well. 

This is a fundamental advantage of a robust, big data exclusion list compiled using machine learning.

4. Boost return on investment

It may not be financially prudent to advertise on certain websites. You might be getting clicks but if those clicks aren’t converting into sales it’s not worth an ad placement.

You could change up the structure and content of the ads and landing pages and run some A/B testing to improve conversions. 

However, if the CPC doesn’t improve, it makes sense to add these websites to your placement exclusion list(s). 

5. Increase conversion rates

By eliminating junk websites at the start of a digital marketing campaign you will notice a positive impact on campaign level conversion rates. A lot of early-stage paid marketers assume that because of the pay-per-click payment structure that it’s not important to consider why people are clicking on your ads. 

As long as they do it’s a good thing right? Not necessarily. By only displaying your ads where people have a genuine interest in your product you can bolster your conversion rates. Over the campaign you might notice less clicks but the clicks that you do get will have a much higher chance of resulting in a conversion. 

Removing the lowest quality websites will help you get rid of many click window shoppers and accidental clickers that some sites are infamous for.

How did our gigantic placement exclusion list come to life?

For half a decade, we set a machine learning algorithm the task of continuously monitoring the post-click performance of advertisers across the globe. 

Our AI machine combed data from trillions of monthly impressions across billions of placements and websites, then our team of data scientists compiled an industry-first placement exclusion list. The list, last time we checked, has over 450 thousand exclusions on two separate lists hidden in a secret vault at AdShield HQ.

How do you exclude websites In GDN?

Once an advertiser connects AdShield to its Google Ads account, from that point on, AdShield can upload the exclusion lists to the advertiser’s account. And when AdShield adds or removes a site it will automatically update the list without the advertiser needing to do anything. 

This saves you a lot of time, because manually adding URLs after each campaign is incredibly labor intensive. It’s also costly, because you won’t really know if a site performs poorly until you’ve spent money and included it in a campaign. With access to a gigantic automatically updating dataset, AdShield has a placement exclusion list that is unrivaled in the digital advertising space.

Connecting to AdShield

At this point, you know why advertisers should exclude certain websites from displaying their ads. However, doing this manually is a time-consuming and experimental process. 

You can kickstart your digital advertising campaign by using AdShield to fine-tune your placement exclusion list before the start of your next campaign. 

This is a sure-fire way to avoid the bulk of poor-performing, irrelevant, or fraudulent websites from wasting your marketing budget.