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This week’s PPCChat session was hosted by Robert Brady. The session had PPC experts discuss about Google’s decision to remove from blanket targeting and exclusions, how to handle this change, opportunities, if any, and more.

Here is the screencap of the discussion that took place.


ppcchat discussion



Q1:If you didn’t hear, Google is removing as a placement exclusion and the Gmob mobile app exclusion (read more here – )What was your reaction in 3 words or less?


btw ads in apps as they are now are a terrible experience for users. So don’t tell me you care about them big G – @Maiglisreal

Expected behavior! – @gilgildner

My first reaction is too uncouth for a professional. – @Mel66

I hate to say I told you so (Lie: I LOVE it), but for years I’ve been saying that google try to force advertisers to buy the crappy inventory google struggles to sell. This is just another example of this. – @stevegibsonppc

My first reaction was shock and betrayal, like everyone, but now I’m seeing the silver lining. It’s sad for those who are young/inexperienced in PPC, but gives an edge to those w workarounds. – @akaEmmaLouise

Yes for multiple different industries: recruiting, sourcing, healthcare, SaaS. Performance was always a mixed bag, sometimes we’d see some great stuff happening then other times it was expensive and conversions were frustratingly low.  – @timmhalloran

Money grabbing SOB’s – @elevatedmrktng

Enhanced Campaigns Flashback – @JonKagan



Q1.1: Who here has been using one or both of these in their Display campaigns?


We haven’t been using either in Display/Remarketing campaigns in the last year and change, but manually excluding all unrelated app placements. – @marccxmedia

We always added  as exclusions in every GDN campaign in all clients. BUT to be fair, that’s because we always only ever had the option to exclude/include all apps. – @PPCKirk

I am more likely to forget ad copy than forget excluding  in GDN campaigns. – @robert_brady

Seriously thought, I have found that without using the  exclusion, even with all the possible categories checked for exclusion, I still get a fair amount of app traffic. Unless they improve that, this sucks.  – @NeptuneMoon

yes. I actually find games/app placements work quite well in certain cases (CERTAIN) so I like to place it as an exclusion most of the time, and isolate it in cases where it works. so much cleaner! – @JuliaVyse

For sure my fave traffic are accidental clicks from chubby thumbs during an intense game of Candy Crush. – @ericdfarmer



Q2: How large of a negative impact would you anticipate on your campaigns if no additional action was taken on your part?


If no action was taken, no app category exclusions, same pricing, etc, I would expect traffic/spend to surge in GDN. That’s a *lot* of inventory they’re opening to all. On the other hand, that also means CPCs will lower, so it’s a little up in the air, TBH. – @PPCKirk

Honestly, we try to reduce mobile traffic for most campaigns anyway. So this will just further reinforce that strategy!  – @gilgildner

Some GDN campaigns, especially audience-targeted ones will probably perform very poorly as I have only seen very high bounce rates from app placements. – @ch_brauer

Courtesy of Google Ads allowing 2X daily spend & the Labor Day weekend I would have anticipated lots of wasted spend that I would spend all day Tuesday cleaning up. – @robert_brady

If NO action was taken and all placements/devices/exclusions remained open? I’d expect high cost, high impressions, low quality traffic, and at least one PR crisis – @amaliaefowler

Hard to say the impact if I were to do nothing. I have apps excluded primarily at the settings level rn, but have also opted out of all gaming-related content categories so the campaigns may not be hit that hard. – @akaEmmaLouise

Can we be totally honest here for a hot second? A LOT of the inventory on GDN is terrible (non-app variety). Making us accept app traffic just to reach people on mobile devices is straight up awful. – @NeptuneMoon

I expect a pretty large one! I like GDN for inception…I mean, awareness-building…anyway, I use the GDN. and if their traffic starts getting ridiculous, I will have to turn to third party programmatic. Not. A. Fan. – @JuliaVyse

If you are not saying a large difference then you are not checking placements in your display campaigns. They should be showing case study of results. – @elevatedmrktng

From a budget management standpoint, huge, from a performance impact, huger – @JonKagan



Q3: How will you be handling it/making changes? Provide your logic because I think there are numerous potential solutions/workarounds.


We will be analyzing mobile/tablet GDN campaigns. (1) If success, we will implement some app categories (excluding heavily for things like games) and keep a close eye on. (2) if they already don’t perform very well, we’ll just exclude mobile/tablets entirely. – @PPCKirk

For the majority of campaigns, blocking mobile placements entirely is going to the be answer. For a few specific niches, we’ll do our best to make it work, but my solution is just to stop mobile GDN placement for now. – @gilgildner

I will probably split my campaigns up by device (while excluding other devices) to test the app category exclusions. It the placements/ results don’t hack it = Easier to cut the cord on mobile traffic. – @mackay0

More budget to Bing 🙂 Bing has been working great for us – @brandon_bednar

We’re just shutting off mobile. We can’t afford the crappy traffic. – @Mel66

More frequent and careful placement reviews, app category exclusions (although I’m skeptical that these will be a catch-all solution)  – @timothyjjensen

Catching up – Seriously considering pausing all unknown demographics (especially age) That’s where the kid clicks are at in apps. But, I’m going to let the data flow in to make that decision. – @jstatad

I will be doing my best to exclude apps other ways, if it doesn’t work, in most cases I will be eliminating mobile GDN placements for most of my clients across the board, and at the very least removing phone call extensions. – @amaliaefowler

I’ve warned all my clients about the change and let them know we will be using workarounds as needed to keep quality of mobile traffic up vs. focusing only on desktop or avoiding GDN. Also warned them about how it may impact competition and CPCs. Workarounds are the obvious content and topic exclusions that Google’s told us about. We’re also digging up some super old scripts that may be implemented to automatically exclude app placements as they show up. Personally, I plan to hold off on that initially.  Unpopular opinion but I’m not convinced is wrong here. It hurts, but we folks can be reluctant to accept change if given the option to avoid it. Apps may not in fact be worse than other GDN placements & exclusions inhibit machine-learning optimization. – @akaEmmaLouise

I am going to be very carefully tracking the time involved in dealing with this, because I can see this becoming a time suck – looking at placement reports already is now. Will see about diminishing returns & advise accordingly. – @NeptuneMoon

Dive into the historical data and really narrow down on what has worked over and over again. Focus on that and only that! – @markpgus

Like a lot of people said, definitely their audiences and granularity. The only other platform that comes close is Facebook, and lately their job/career options are severely limited imo. – @timmhalloran

More budget to Bing 🙂 Bing has been working great for us. – @brandon_bednar

We run two campaigns one with apps and one without. We will now use app category exclusion to accomplish this. We check the apps for placements and look for good apps and filter those out into their own camapign to control cost. For anyone hating on GDN you should be using to build email list! Just saying. – @elevatedmrktng

Right out the bat, excluding sports, weather, and gaming entities, then deciding just how badly we really need mobile, and that’s as far as I’ve gotten – @JonKagan



Q3.1: Anyone know of a negative placements list that is just apps?



We should crowd source one… – @NeptuneMoon

I do not – @amaliaefowler

If you know of one, please share – @JonKagan 



Q3.2: Would people be interested in crowdsourcing one?


Yes, but I could see this getting unwieldy fast. There are lots of apps out there! – @gilgildner

Someone make a script to pull in daily from the crowdsourced google sheet. – @markpgus

I would – @amaliaefowler

yes please – @JonKagan



Q4: What opportunities do you see opening up with this change?


I think this is a good reminder that we need to remember that Google ultimately wants our job to be replaced by their $$$ algorithms. That’s fine as long as we are aware of our changing role. – @gilgildner

The ROI of app development is reconsidered. – @LisaSanner

I’ll be curious if this can get Google the data they need to figure out which apps are legit for converting vs. crap clicks. Then the automated bidding will work better & my placement reports will divulge the best stuff for specific targeting. – @robert_brady

It’s certainly an opportunity for those who know what they’re doing in managing campaigns to stand out.  – @timothyjjensen

If Bing Display with LinkedIn targeting works and they can somehow increase the size of their foot print, then they get ALL the Display $. – @jstatad

I see the opportunity for me to break out of my comfortable search network zone and get creative with clients and placements and targeting – as much as I don’t THINK it will work, I’ll still give it a really good try and hope I’m proved wrong. – @amaliaefowler

(I’m falling behind trying to keep up with so much great discussion!) I see a silver lining in that many advertisers may opt out of mobile/tablet entirely, for simplicity sake or quality concerns ==> less competition and lower CPCs for mobile/tablet web placements. – @akaEmmaLouise

I sincerely hope that there turns out to be a very nice silver lining to this at some point, I just can’t see what that would be right now? – @NeptuneMoon

BING LEAD AD INTEGRATION. Two-way data, Bing to LI and LI to Bing. Making search campaigns with LI’s audience targeting features. – @timmhalloran

Possible third party platforms offering app exclusions. – @brandon_bednar

we are going to be considering a greater reach, at a younger demograhic – @JonKagan



Q5: Long term, who do you see as the “winners” and who do you see as the “losers” with this change?


Winners = Google and developers on the App Store. Losers = Everyone else. – @gilgildner

Facebook should have been the winners, but for some reason, it hasn’t ocurred to them to build a display network – even though it would be far better than google’s. – @stevegibsonppc

I imagine the conversation at Google going like this: “We are not monetizing apps well enough, what to do?” “Eureka, let’s make it muh harder for people to exclude them!” Google wins. We lose for now because we have to clean up placement lists. – @ch_brauer

Obviously and their shareholders are winners. – @robert_brady

Winners App Owners. Those that have ad impressions as a “success metric”. Losers – “performance” marketers like us. Guess what folks, we are a getting stomped by the spend of the programmatic brand marketers. – @jstatad

It’s hard to say right now. I think Google ultimately wins with this change, and I think new and inexperienced Google Ads users lose. Overall, I hope we as experienced PPCers end up in the winners category somehow. – @amaliaefowler

Obvs will be among the winners, or they’ll add app exclusions back. Losers is harder to say. IMO some advertisers will win (who understand & respond to the change), but may also get burned by new clients who refuse GDN entirely bc “tried & it didn’t work” – @akaEmmaLouise

Winner – GoogleAds (and Google earnings reports). Losers – majority of advertisers (particularly those that don’t have a professional helping to manage their accounts). – @NeptuneMoon

Random thought. Maybe this is for Target CPA filler. They figure, if they know that a placement will convert for another company and the chances for you are low, then send that non-converting click to a crap placement. This could be a good thing for everyone. – @markpgus

Bing, and sketchy agencies who aren’t fully transparent – they’ll still drive unqualified traffic and get their % of spend. – @ppcbuyers

Has worked best for low barrier, high value offers to people unfamiliar with my client. Webinars, ebooks. Generally MOFU tho. The thing with LI targeting is that it basically pre-qualifies the audience to the point where I (almost) wouldn’t consider it TOFU anymore. – @timmhalloran

I wonder if Google is trying to use this as a way to get more people interested in releasing apps on the Google play store. More money ad revenue on apps makes it more appealing to publishers – @brandon_bednar

I learned a long long time ago, no matter what “Google always wins”. That any app developers here. Losers? roughly everyone on this thread and more. – @JonKagan



Q6: How do you think Google could have increased the number of advertisers on mobile apps without such drastic measures?


Finding a way to reduce accidental clicks, like making people do another click to confirm they really want to click on the ad. I’d think that they have the capability for that and it would make everybody happy in the long term. – @ch_brauer

If they would have offered app categories or some sort of segmentation, so advertisers could exclude all and then gradually add with bid modifiers. Test segmentation, control, evaluate, expand. We’re all control freaks. – @LisaSanner

I don’t think Google necessarily is looking at # of advertisers, or they wouldn’t have done this. They’re looking at total ad spend, and the VAST majority of PPC campaigns won’t be touched…most people don’t know or care about this change. – @gilgildner

For starters, bring back the display planner so we can manually sift through app placements more easily and choose to target just the apps we want. – @timothyjjensen

Better vetting of app providers. Some have unobtrusive ads, but many, like kids games, are full of ads that are bright, shiny, and invite kids to click. Kids don’t know what they’re doing. – @Mel66

The growth has flattened. The only opportunities are small businesses that have never advertised and growing impression loads for “brand” advertisers seeking better “awareness”. Forcing this change gives them the impressions they needed for that. The growth has flattened. The only opportunities are small businesses that have never advertised and growing impression loads for “brand” advertisers seeking better “awareness”. Forcing this change gives them the impressions they needed for that. – @jstatad

Quality controls – if I found it was worth my time (less fat fingered clicks, more control over app type placements, generally better quality clicks) I’d be all over it. I don’t like it right now, because it doesn’t usually work for me. – @amaliaefowler

Maybe provide more guidance on ways to better use in app ads rather than forcing them on every advertiser who wants mobile traffic? It is self-reinforcing though – more ad $$ for apps = more apps made = more app inventory and so on and so on. – @NeptuneMoon

forcing app makers to be more transparent about what’s in the app and what it’s for. SO much manual filtering of unsafe, adult and other types of app content. If people saw Google as being serious about safety, they would be more willing to advertise. – @JuliaVyse

Refined filters allowing us advertisers to get granular with app targeting (i.e. super specific categories). Maybe a “TrueView” type click option? – @timmhalloran

Interactive ad formats. Your playing a game on an app? Beat this advertisers game before moving on. – @brandon_bednar

Mission accomplished, freak out the commmunity, get them talking about strategies to use it and now we have them advertising in apps. – @elevatedmrktng

I was wondering this myself. This seems like the first time in awhile they made a drastic change, without at first going the route of propaganda based education to explain the benefits of it first. Go that route, and see if you could grow it that way first IMO. – @JonKagan



Q7: What advice would you give an SMB advertiser who’s doing a little remarketing & display on his/her own?


regularly join this and asks lots of questions. Test new audiences but definitely keep a hawk’s eye on it regularly! – @mindswanppc

Narrow your targeting down to the bare minimum, stick with search & remarketing, avoid mobile placement, stick with manual bidding, and don’t do anything that Google auto-recommends. – @gilgildner

Only bid and budget what you are really willing to pay. Don’t get caught up in auction dynamics or trying to beat the system. Or hire a pro. – @LisaSanner 

Err on the side of over-targeting. There’s now no such thing as too many targeting option layers & Do regular placement exclusions as you get the time. – @jstatad

Hire someone to teach you, even for 2 hours. A consultant who knows their stuff can help you get your mind around what to do/what not to do. – @amaliaefowler

Do your research before you launch. Understand all the options that ARE still available to avoid low-quality traffic (i.e. know all the content exclusions you want, not just the ones for apps). Start with placement blacklists (lots avail online) & add more as you go. – @akaEmmaLouise

For SMBs and everyone. Like said this placement could do good for branding (frequency & brand recall). If your campaigns aren’t prospecting, then I wouldn’t worry about it… that said, DON’T PROSPECT. – @markpgus

For your modest budget, build lists. only use mobile placements with a strong custom list attached so you can ensure you narrow traffic as much as possible. – @JuliaVyse

If you aren’t a high demand product/brand, relying on remarketing won’t work. But remember, GDN can be a money suck, have precise and defined targets, and control it. Do not {ever} set it and forget it, or you’re gonna waste a lot of cash. – @JonKagan


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