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Would Your Mother Approve of your Display Ad Placements?

Taking Control of your Display Network Campaigns with Google’s Category Exclusions Tool

Pornography.  Bloody fights and riots displayed across YouTube.  High-speed car chase videos of alcohol induced degenerates leaving a wake of death and destruction as they storm through city streets.  The so-called food “challenges” that have sprung up across the Internet involving the consumption of mass quantities of cinnamon, milk, bananas and Sprite and other “fine” cuisine; endeavors that usually result in copious amounts of vomiting, and if I had to venture a guess, horrible cases of indigestion.

Whether the online community would like to admit it or not, the above forms of content, as well as other similar subject matter, represent some of the most popular things to view when surfin’ the net.  With hundreds of thousands of websites boasting the latest in sex, fighting and debauchery and hundreds of millions of people actively visiting those sites each day, an advertising opportunist may see this trend as a limitless outlet for branding via Online Display/Retargeting/Video Ads.  I mean, don’t you remember the story about the savvy marketer who successfully advertised his brand on his favorite racy website?  Or, the one about the businesswoman who watched her leads and sales skyrocket within days of placing ad inventory on the webpage of a Ku-Klux-Klan affiliate?  No, you don’t remember these stories, because for the majority of brands, products, and services, advertising on such sites is not only bad for business (i.e. a car ad on a local, “no-strings-attached hook-up” site is probably not that effective), but it is also a bane to branding (can you say “PR pandemonium?”).

Luckily for you (and me, as I am responsible for numerous Display/Retargeting/Video Advertising Campaigns), Google offers a way to ensure that your Online Ads do not end up in the shameful corners of the World Wide Web.  Let me introduce you to Category Exclusions: an apt method for smart (family friendly) brand management and digital advertising control!  The Category Exclusions tool within Google AdWords allows you to select certain categories of websites that you would like to avoid when running Ads across the Google Display Network.  Once chosen, you can rest assured that your Ads will not show on sites that could hurt your business’s reputation, or worse, your grandmother’s feelings.

To set up Category Exclusions in Google Adwords, follow these simple steps:

1 – Navigate to the Campaign(s) in your account that hous(es) your Display Ads.  From there, click on the Display Network tab located towards the top of the interface.

select tab display

2 – Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the small plus sign that sits next to the blue Exclusions link.  Next, select the green Categories tab on the left, and then click on the Add Exclusions button that will appear towards the right of the screen.

select categories to exclude

3 – After you’ve clicked the Add Exclusions button, a pop-up will surface that displays categories of websites that you can exclude from your Google Display Network Campaign(s).  I would suggest selecting the top six that appear (I think you’ll see why if you look at the image below), which you can do by checking the radio buttons that appear in the Exclude column.  Once you’ve finished, simply click the Save button.

exclude the categories

Obviously, whether you want, or need, to exclude certain site categories from your Display Network Campaign(s) depends on the nature of your brand(s) and product(s), your target audience(s), and the current advertising rules and regulations that are enforced in your industry.  Also, in the event that traffic from otherwise “questionable” websites provides your Online Display/Retargeting/Video initiative within an increase in sales and leads (perhaps the lonely adult website “connoisseur” can think with the right head after all), you may want to assume the risk and keep advertising in these areas of the Internet, but do so cautiously.  Otherwise, you should probably follow this simple rule: Keep it clean – if your mother doesn’t want to see your business’s name next to vulgar or inappropriate content, neither do your customers.  Your brand’s reputation, and ultimately, your bottom line, will thank you for it.

*Quick note from the Google AdWords Blog on Category Exclusions: “All sites in the content network are already required to comply with Google’s AdSense policies.  Several levels of review are in place to detect that pages in the network comply with these guidelines.  However, some advertisers have requested the ability to avoid additional types of content that don’t meet their advertising goals, and we’ve released category exclusion in order to provide this control.”

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