[BIG NEWS] Google Ads Remove Mobile App Exclusions 😱

If you advertise on Google’s display network, then prepare yourself for some bad news.

Things are never going to be the same again…

No matter if you’re the head of marketing or a freelance PPC manager, the chances are you’ve already received the dreaded “Dear Google Ads advertiser” email. But in case you haven’t seen the email, or you merely dismissed it as spam, here’s the important news:

Dear Google Ads Advertiser,

You are receiving this message because your Google Ads account (Customer ID: XXX-XXX-XXXX) contains at least one Google Display Network (GDN) campaign that will be impacted by upcoming changes to mobile targeting and placement exclusion controls.

What’s changing

In September 2018, the adsenseformobileapps.com exclusion and the GMob mobile app non-interstitial exclusion will no longer be available within Google Ads. Device settings will also be consolidated into three device types: computer, mobile and tablet.

This change simplifies how you reach mobile users across the web and on apps, and it may impact if and how your ads show in mobile apps. As a result of these updates, you may see a significant increase in mobile apps traffic or mobile web traffic depending on your current settings.

Next Steps

To help ensure that your ads appear within apps and across sites as expected, adjust your existing controls to meet your campaign goals before September 1, 2018. Visit the Help Center to learn how to make these changes. If you have any questions about these updates, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your account team or contact us at any time.


The Google Ads team

Most people’s reaction after reading this email is something along the lines of:

While others who don’t truly understand the significance of the upcoming changes will probably be more like:

To many advertisers, it might not sound like a big deal, but this simple change will affect millions of display network campaigns worldwide.

To explain it in layman’s terms, currently, users who run Google display ads can choose if they want their ads to be displayed on mobile sites or in mobile apps. All you have to do is go under your campaign options and click a few buttons.

But these upcoming changes will change everything. Instead of giving advertisers the option to choose if their ads are displayed in mobile apps or not, Google has given them an ultimatum: run ads on mobile including in-app ads, or don’t run ANY mobile ads.

Obviously, this has upset a lot of users. But why is everyone so mad over the removal of being able to exclude mobile apps from the display network? Well, it’s to do with the fact that the majority of clicks received on the display network are fraudulent and clicks that come from in mobile apps aren’t any better.

Why Are In-App Ads So Disliked?

Like we’ve covered in the past, the Google display network has a much higher fraud rate than search ads. Just take a look at the chart below:

click fraud on networks

This means that if you run a campaign on the display network, then the are chances you’re much more likely to receive fraudulent clicks than if you run search or shopping ads.

But the problem gets even worse when you look at in-app mobile ads and their fraud rate.

According to data from Pixalate, over 36% of mobile in-app ads receive fraudulent impressions alone. Convert that number into clicks, and it’s clear that in-app ads are the most fraudulently targeted adverts.

There are plenty of reasons why in-app ads receive higher fraud rates than any other mobile traffic. The first is that certain fraud rings purposely create fake apps and then spend all day clicking the ads to make lots of money, just like this:

click farm

Now Google is forcing everyone to display their ads in mobile apps, there’s a good chance these people will be clicking your ads and wasting your money very soon.

Another reason why in-app ads receive a lot of fake and fraudulent clicks is due to the placement of the ads themselves. From looking at the screenshot below, the advert is located directly at the bottom of the app. For most mobile users, this is where their menu bar is located. This means that when someone is trying to access their menu bar on the phone they might accidentally click the ad instead. That’s good news for the app makers who get revenue per click, and bad for advertisers who lose money to accidental clicks.

in app mobile ad placement

With fraudulent click rates reaching the double figures, it raises the question: why would anyone want to advertise on mobile anymore?

What Do The Changes Mean For You?

For many advertisers, this new change has not been welcomed with open arms.

Although the changes aren’t coming into effect until September 2018, a lot of users are already planning out their next move.

One user on Reddit said:

“Just reached out to my rep on this to confirm, waiting to hear back. If this is the case they can kiss our display spend goodbye. We only get junk traffic from mobile apps, seems like they’re all designed to trick people into clicking cause we always see 20-50%+ CTR and super high bounce rates.”

While another user said:

“Since I use GDN I will definitely be turning off all non-desktop GDN as soon as this hits. I can’t spend an entire day every week blocking flashlight apps and other garbage that comes and goes like brushfire.”

From speaking to a range of different advertisers about the change, it’s clear that they’re already looking at dropping all of their mobile traffic if it means they can’t block in-app traffic. It might sound like a drastic change, but if there’s no way for them to exclude the bad traffic then they’re basically throwing money away.

For now, advertisers will have to adjust their campaigns to factor in the introduction of forced in mobile app ads. But who knows, if enough advertisers decide to stop running mobile ads then maybe they’ll revert the changes. At the moment it’s really a wait and see.

With the changes less than a month away Google won’t be able to see the full effect of their changes until the new update goes live. In the meantime, expect a lot of angry advertisers moaning about how its the end of the world!