Avoid A GDN Disaster With One Simple Optimization

By Cassie Oumedian | @cass_oumedian | Associate Director of Services at Hanapin Marketing

This week we’ve focused on PPC issues that we have faced and triumphantly overcome. The most memorable key learning that has stuck with me over the years is the importance of monitoring display placements – in particular Mobile App placements. Earlier this year I wrote a post about how the Mobile App: Flappy Birds almost destroyed my account. Since then, I’ve gathered even more information on this subject and why it is vital to regularly monitor your placements and add exclusions to your Display campaigns.


The Lowdown on Mobile App Placement Optimizations – Real Talk


Google Display campaigns can be a great way to expand market reach, branding and drive incremental conversions. However, if not monitored and optimized regularly, they can be disastrous to your account. Either a ton of money is wasted on one rogue placement (eh hem, Flappy Birds) or there could be a slow leak that, over time, really starts to add up. Sites are coming in and out of the Display Network daily so it’s important to stay on top of these campaigns.


If you have been following series week you’ve probably read Eric’s post on “How to Get Ahead on The Google Display Network” and his “not so secret” love for Dinosaurs. Eric touches on the importance of site exclusions and I couldn’t agree more. Below I plan to expand on this piece by talking about Mobile App placements and why it’s so important to monitor while running Display campaigns.


If you are running any type of campaign on the Google Display Network (remarketing, topics, interests, contextual keywords, ect), I encourage you to follow along with the analysis to see if your account has been affected by Mobile Apps.


Mobile App Display Placement Analysis


Here is how to find if your Display Network ads are showing on mobile apps.


  1. Go to Display, Placements tab and set date range for 6 Months (or as far back as you can). For this analysis I ran it from Jan 1 – to date
  2. Filter for placements that contain: mobile or mobileapp
  3. Segment by device and day of week for all placements
  4. Download report




The report will look similar to this screenshot.




Not a big deal as we’ve spent $0.50 over 9 months. Well except for the fact that we even showed up for Mobile App Nail Doctor Kids Games. Let’s dig a little deeper…


  1. Run a pivot table from the data and group all the Mobile App placements
  2. Segment pivot table by device and day of the week




What the $#@#@!


But wait! You had your mobile bid modifiers set to -100% AND you had the GMob Mobile Sites exclusions. How did this happen? Well PPC friends, remember that little thing called enhanced campaigns where we can no longer opt out of tablets? Yeah, that’s what happened. Mobile Apps will show up on tablets. Little kids LOVE those apps and clicking on ads that pop up during their game of Mobile App: Nail Doctor Kids Games.


You can see now that all of these mobile placements are coming from Tablets. Also, majority of spend is happening on Saturday or Sunday when you are probably not as likely to be keeping as close of an eye on them. Sneaky little buggers, those Mobile Apps!


The Fix – One. Simple. Optimization.


If you had any Mobile Apps in your placement report, do this now.


  1. Go to Shared Library
  2. Campaign Placement Exclusions
  3. Add the domain adsenseformobileapps.com
  4. Apply to all Display campaigns
  5. Save a ton of money




After adding adsenseformobileapps.com to all Display campaigns and excluding In-Game categories, we saw CPA decrease dramatically. Now, with regular placement audits, these Display campaigns perform great generating 50% of account conversion volume with CPAs comparable to Search campaigns.




Now I don’t mean to be a Display hater because the Google Display Network does have HUGE potential to be extremely profitable. The message I’m trying to get across is that it’s very important to regularly run Placement reports and EXCLUDE MOBILE APPS!! Save yourself some headaches and money by learning from my biggest lesson in PPC.


Make sure to check out our other series week posts!