Google recently made a big change in retiring Adsenseformobileapps.com placement and G-mob exclusions as a universal way to exclude mobile app traffic. In September, Google sent out a letter warning that these exclusions would no longer be available. So, if you were previously excluding apps in this way, you might see an increase in mobile app traffic. Google also provides a step-by-step page to prepare for updates to mobile targeting and exclusion.

mobile apps

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.

In some accounts, we see that Adsenseformobileapps.com now displays an inactive error message. So it is safe to say that they have officially killed off the ability to blanket exclude apps.

In other accounts, we do not see the inactive notice beneath the adsenseformobileapps.com placement but see a banner listed across the top of the placement exclusions page.

So, one belief was that you could still exclude them under the Settings > Devices > Set specific targeting for devices and unchecking all app options. However, we found we were still showing in mobile apps and this option did not seem to work.

In their instructions, they do mention that this specific device settings option is going to roll up into one opt into or out of mobile or tablet option. You may see this option in your account, but it does not appear to be working any longer. (Starting in September 2018, these three mobile controls will be consolidated into a single “Mobile” control to opt into or out of mobile traffic.)

One Google rep told me that as long as you choose to target mobile devices, you would show in mobile apps. So in theory, this tells us that Google was simplifying the process so you can either show on mobile or not. If you wanted to show on mobile, you were also going to show in apps, unless you specifically excluded them one-by-one. In one account, around September 26th, you can clearly see when the gates opened to allow mobile app traffic.

Is it possible that Mobile App traffic has improved and we might want to reconsider allowing our ads to show in apps? On occasion, I have played games on my mobile device and have more than once accidentally clicked an ad by accident. Usually, it is because the button shifts up when the ad appears and the ad is clicked instead of the intended button. Accidental clicks in-app are definitely a real issue.

In one E-commerce account, we see that $672 was spent showing on mobile apps, resulting in 16 conversions, and $5,397 in revenue. On first glance, it seems like mobile traffic is effective for this account.

In one Lead Gen account, we can see that conversions are coming in on mobile devices. Upon further analysis, the CPL is nearly double in mobile apps compared to non-mobile app placements. In this case, this may not be the best use of our budget given the higher CPL. Especially since we have no way to verify the quality of these leads. One way to help verify the quality is to make sure you are only tracking valuable actions as conversions.

In account above, we had already split our Remarketing campaign by device to help control mobile costs. This option allowed us to optimize each campaign independently based on placement performance by device. Plus, this prevented mobile from cannibalizing our desktop budget. So, we know splitting the campaigns by device helps maximize our conversions from desktop and reduce the CPL from mobile.

So, in theory, we could potentially split the Mobile campaign again to isolate Mobile Apps specifically. Especially if we find that costs become an issue. So in one campaign, we can exclude mobile app categories as well as any other mobile app placements that slip through. In the other campaign, we can select the desired app categories and with Targeting instead of Observation.

So it is easy to gauge the mobile app traffic in E-commerce accounts, but not so easy in our Lead Gen accounts. Over the years, there have been questionable conversions coming in from foreign websites and sketchy websites. Perhaps, we do not have enough visibility into the path of the user to have full confidence in mobile app traffic when it comes to leads.

In another Lead Gen account, we only found that Mobile Apps were resulting in spending but were not resulting in any conversions. So we attempted to exclude all the Google Play and Apple App categories. Unfortunately, this did not prevent our ads from showing in mobile apps.

Excluding the mobile app categories did appear to reduce the amount of traffic coming through from mobile apps. Although it had spent a lower amount on previous occasions, so it is difficult to determine if we will see a spike in spending again or not.

In this account, we were still seeing traffic from Mobile App: Gmail (Google Play), by Google LLC. We were able to exclude this placement at the campaign level and one thing I noticed is that it says Mobile Application under Type instead of Mobile application category.

Closing Thoughts

It does seem you will have to judge mobile app quality on a case-by-case basis. However, if you find the costs exceed the benefits, then you might want to exclude mobile apps. Google certainly did not make opting out of an easy process. Plus, the verdict is still out on whether these options will effectively exclude all the app traffic.