How to prepare for updates to mobile targeting and exclusion in Google Ads (AdWords) or A working solution to say ‘Goodbye’ to mobile apps after changes coming in September 2018

Lyubomir Popov
Aug 27, 2018 · 4 min read

According to this article from Google https://support.google.com/google-ads/answer/9051067

“Starting in September 2018, Google is simplifying targeting and exclusion controls for Google Display Network ads on mobile devices in order to make it easier to reach the growing base of mobile users. As a result of these changes, you may see a significant increase in mobile apps or mobile web traffic (depending on your current settings).”

(The article has been edited about 3 times during August 2018, so I hope that I will find the same content when I visit it again :) Apart from this, there is no more ‘last edit date’ on the bottom of Google Support Center pages…)

What that means is that we will not have full control over the ads from Display Network campaigns i.e. they will show on mobile apps!

At present we have the option to use a special placement “adsenseformobileapps.com”. When we use this placement as an exclusion our ads are not showing on mobile apps.

But, according to the article:

“The “adsenseformobileapps.com” placement exclusion, which allows blanket targeting and exclusion of app inventory, will be removed. After this exclusion is removed, campaigns will start to see app traffic. Going forward, you’ll be able to use device settings to manage which channel your ads appear on. To see your exclusions, click Placements in the page menu, then click the Exclusions tab.”

Currently we have the option to set ‘Specific targeting for devices’ in campaign settings:

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The bad news: It will go away!

The article states:

“ Simplified device targeting: Device targeting will be consolidated to 3 device types: computer, mobile and tablet. If you previously targeted by certain mobile categories, such as Mobile app, Mobile app interstitial, or Mobile web, all mobile placements will now be targeted. Similarly, if you previously targeted by Tablet app, Tablet app interstitial, or Tablet web, all tablet placements will now be targeted.”

So, it seems that we will have to exclude each mobile app manually … one by one…

The solution:

To put ALL app categories in a Placement exclusion list and then to apply it to all campaigns.

How to do to it in the new Google Ads ‘interface’:

  1. Select ‘Placement exclusion list’ from ‘Tools’
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2. Click on the ‘+’ button to create a new Placement exclusion list

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3. Name it, for example, ‘App categories’

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4. The hard part: You need to click 140 times. 84 times on each App Store category and 56 times on each Google Play category.

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(Actually, as of today, you have to exclude ‘Windows Phone Apps’ app category at campaign level. This category is not available in Placement exclusion list, so you have to add it manually to each campaign one by one)

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5. Apply the list to all campaigns.

5.1. Select all Display campaigns you have:

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5.2. Edit -> Edit targeting -> Placement exclusion lists

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5.3. Apply the list to the campaigns

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5.4. Click ‘Preview’ and then ‘Apply’

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We are ready! Our ads from Display campaigns will not show on any mobile app.


Update (30 Jan 2019) : If you are an advanced user you can use AdWords Editor and to save your time. See here a fast & efficient way to do it.
https://brightavocado.com/digital-marketing/search-engine-marketing/how-to-exclude-mobile-apps-from-google-ads/

Thanks to Anze Hribar for this perfect guide.

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