Exclude Mobile App Placements in Google Display | GlowMetrics

Feb 23rd 2021

Digital Marketing Insights

4 min read

Posted by Nicola Russell

Exclude Mobile App Placements in Google Display

Display ads can be an extremely useful part of any Google Ads campaign. Not only do they offer a more cost-effective reach than a Google Search campaign, but they also...

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Display ads can be an extremely useful part of any Google Ads campaign. Not only do they offer a more cost-effective reach than a Google Search campaign, but they also allow advertisers and organisations to be creative with how ads look and who they are targeted to. With Google Display ads, advertisers can use engaging imagery, clever remarketing, and features such as similar audiences to generate huge brand awareness at a very reasonable cost. But sometimes Display campaigns can be…frustrating. The reason? Mobile App Placements.

The Rise of Mobile App Ad Placements

You may have noticed when checking your display placements (where your ads are shown) that there are a lot of mobile apps appearing. Mobile applications are part of the Google Display Network, so your ads are eligible to show when people play mobile app games or are just checking the weather through an app. You may find (as we have done for most of our clients) that performance from these mobile app placements is poor – plenty of clicks, but few (if any) conversions. 

The problem is, many of these mobile app placements are considered low-quality and can result in a high proportion of unintentional clicks. It’s not unusual to see lots of activity for placements such as torch apps – when you are quite literally playing for clicks from people as they stumble around in the dark! When a significant amount of your budget has been spent on these apps, that adds up to a lot of wastage. So, you may want to prevent your ads from showing on any mobile apps. However, that is not as simple as you may think

How We Used to Remove App Placements

Previously Google made it easy for advertisers to remove mobile app placements from Google Display campaigns. All you had to do was add “adsenseformobileapp.com” to your placement exclusion list and Google would no longer display your ads on mobile apps. Simple. Unfortunately, that workaround no longer works, and it’s a bit more time-consuming for advertisers to remove mobile apps from their placements these days.

However, by following our step-by-step guide you will be able to reduce the number of times your ads are showing on these apps as efficiently as possible. How to Exclude Mobile App Categories from Google Display Campaigns

Step 1 – Open Your Display Campaign & Go to Placement Exclusions

  • Open your Display campaign.
  • Click on the ‘Placements’ tab on the left-hand side.
  • Click on the ‘Exclusions’ tab


Step 2 – Click on the Edit Button to Exclude Placements

  • Click on the blue edit button to add new placements to the exclusions section.
  • Click ‘Exclude placements’ to get started.

Excluding Google Display App Placements  

Step 3 – Choose App Categories and Remove at the Campaign Level

  • Choose to exclude apps from your Account, Campaign or at the Ad Group Level.
  • Click on ‘App categories’ on the list.
  • Choose every mobile app category under the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store, and Windows Phone Apps.
  • You should have over 180 selected at this point.
  • Click on the Save button to add app exclusions to your Google Display Ads campaign.

App Categories Exclusion

How to Exclude Specific Mobile App Placements

If you would like to exclude specific mobile app placements from your campaigns, go to your ‘Placements’ tab, click on the ‘Where Ads Showed’ tab, and select which specific Mobile App placements you would like to exclude. Once you select all of the mobile app placements where your ads are showing, you can click on Edit, and then Exclude from Ad Group or Exclude from Campaign. Then, when you go back to your ‘Placements’ tab, and under the ‘Exclusions’ tab, you will see the mobile apps you just removed. These should no longer appear in your list of placements.


Excluding Mobile App Display Placements


Just remember, when setting up a new Display campaign, you should exclude all app categories as above if you don’t want your ads showing on mobile apps. You should still get your placement report periodically too! In Summary

While many advertisers would like to have the ‘Adsenseformobileapps.com’ excluded placement back, Google seems to be making it as difficult as possible impossible to completely remove mobile application targeting from your Google Display campaigns. However, although time-consuming, excluding apps manually and excluding app categories is a great workaround for the time being.

We recommend thoroughly checking your display placements, every month at least. This is particularly important for B2B advertisers who want more control of when and where their ads are shown. It’s important to remember that, as with anything to do with performance marketing or PPC, before you exclude mobile apps make sure your decisions are based on accurate, reliable, and relevant data. You never know, maybe your target market is avidly completing jigsaws, playing solitaire… or even finding a date! Interested in Google Ads? Check out our Digital Marketing blog for more PPC tips across Google Ads and more.

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6 responses to “Exclude Mobile App Placements in Google Display”

  1. Tik says:

    Thanks a lot Nicola for sharing this tutorial. I was looking for a way to remove some unwanted traffic.

  2. Attila says:

    Thx for the guide, is there anyway to do this faster? or we really have to do it 1 by 1 for 180+ checkboxes?

  3. Sven says:

    Hi Nicola, thanks for the post. I seems I’m not alone with this problem.

    Here’s what I did (I recommend this only, if it is ok to do without mobile impressions in the beginning): ​

    Go to “Devices” –> set “Tablets”, “Mobile” and “TV-Screens” to -100%. This way, the Ads will only be displayed on Desktop Screens.

    –> “Collect” placements for 2 to 4 weeks (depending on the budget).
    –> After a few weeks you should have a usable list of webites with placements.
    –> Make a placement-list out of it and place it in your campaign
    –> After that, remove the -100% for Tablets and Mobile Devices (leave the TV Screens)

    This might be not smoothest solution, but at least it avoids the unnecessary “mobile app” clicks.

  4. Brody says:

    You can create all the mobile app category exclusions at once with the Google Ads Editor.
    Choose ‘Mobile app categories, Negative’ in the left navbar.
    ‘Add negative mobile app category’ button -> Campaign
    Click any menu item and Ctrl + A
    Click OK.

    Keep using the Editor and let Google know it’s important, please.

  5. Gary Brazzell says:

    Unfortunately, this method has not worked for the past two day. When I follow the instructions, the mobile apps excluded do not appear on the placement exclusions list. YouTube channels can be excluded this way, but excluding apps is not working.

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Posted by
Nicola Russell

Nicola is the Digital Team Lead at GlowMetrics, preparing and executing PPC & SEO strategies for new and existing clients. Nicola specialises in integrated marketing campaigns, combining the best of paid social and paid search to get the finest of results for her clients
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