2 Quick Hacks to improve your Google Display & YouTube ads

One way to improve your Google Display campaign and YouTube performance is to exclude your ads from appearing on mobile apps placements and other irrelevant places.

Why should you do that?

Reason being is that while mobile app placements may record a higher CTR (as high as over 1%), where most likely they are clicks that are accidental (due to fat-fingers) or that people simply couldn’t find the X button while they are playing a photo collage app or playing a mobile game. 

We also recommend excluding placements where your ads might be exposed to unintended viewers (e.g. child of your intended target audience who is using his parents’ phone to watch nursery rhymes on YouTube or playing Candy Crush mobile app)  

Where your display / YouTube ads are showing

First, if you have display or YouTube ads with active delivery, find out where your ads are showing by following these steps:

Step 1 – Go to your Display / Video Campaign

Step 2 – Click on Content, which will expand a list. Select “Where ads showed”

How to exclude irrelevant placements:

Approach 1:

Step 1 – Filter for <1 conversion, and click on the “Cost” metric to see which placement spent the most budget

Step 2 – Check against the placements that cost a lot, and don’t make sense for your ad to appear there (cartoon channels, anime sites etc – what you choose to exclude depends on your product). 

Step 3 – Select “Edit” and “Exclude from campaign”

As there may be too many placements to sift through, you can make use of the “Search” feature and bulk select. 

Approach 2:

Step 1 – Filter for <1 conversion. Use the “Search” tool at the top of the metrics, and type “Game”. You will see a list of YouTube channels, websites and apps that contain the word “game” within.

Step 2 – Select the square check box at the top to mass select all the placements

Step 3 – “Edit” > “Exclude from campaign”

Other ideas on bulk exclusions are words like “kids” “rhyme” “toys” “rhyme” “roblox” “minecraft”. This is not an exhaustive list, certainly there are many more content that your target audience are less likely to be viewing. Think along the lines of kids who could potentially be using their parent’s devices, and what kind of content they would be viewing. 

How to exclude mobile apps

Google has made this a slightly tedious process. It’s quite hidden, so here goes:

Step 1 – Go to your Display / Video Campaign

Step 2 – Go to “Content” which will expand, then select “Exclusions”

Step 3 – Go to the drop down on top (see what I mean by hidden), click on select “Placement exclusions

Step 4 – Click on the blue pencil icon just below and select “App categories”. Click on the carrot to expand. You can exclude on Account, Campaign or Ad group level.

Step 5 – Check on all the categories (yes, all 141 of them). Some of the categories may be hidden, so you have to click on the carrot to keep expanded to see more. Once you have selected, the exclusions will appear on the box at the right. Then, “Save”

After making these optimizations, you may see that CTRs decline slightly, but that your budget is flowing to placements/channels/sites that are more likely to have viewers who are getting your active attention and reach your intended audience. 

We recommend reviewing the ‘where ads showed’ every 2 weeks or so so that you can make sure that your ads are not appearing on any new irrelevant content and exclude them accordingly. 

Wish to learn more about such hacks to optimize your digital marketing campaigns on Google? Sign up for our digital advertising hands-on course where we share in-depth on how to set up and optimize campaigns on Google and Facebook to reduce wastage and effectively reach your target audience.

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Instructor: Kaiqing

About the author

Kaiqing has a passion for digital marketing and enjoys seeing the fruit of her efforts in driving and exceeding business objectives.