As I’m sure most of you are aware, with the roll-out of Enhanced Campaigns we are all now opted into tablets and mobile for AdWords campaigns. While you can set bid modifiers to -100% to opt out of mobile with full browsers, you are not able to do so for tablets. This can be a real bummer for some accounts but this is nothing new. The reason I bring up this topic, is because in one day, the Mobile App, Flappy Birds, blew up a display campaign. Learn how this happened and what to do to prevent this from happening to your accounts.

Overview Of Campaign Set-up

The campaign was a Contextual KeyWord Targeted Display campaign for an Ecommerce account targeting an audience 50+. Because the site does not convert well on mobile, we had set the mobile bid modifiers at -100% and excluded the GMob Mobile App non-interstitial for this campaign.


The Dreaded Flappy Birds Syndrome

Performance for this campaign is usually relatively stable so we were shocked to see that on a Sunday, spend had increased by 221%, with 34% of spend coming from one placement – Mobile App: Flappy Bird (iTunes App Store) dun dun dunn….


Tablet Vs Desktop Findings

As we dug into the placement exclusions further, we notice that there are many other Mobile Apps placements showing up that are not relevant to the campaign targeting settings but haven’t spent nearly as much as Flappy Birds. Digging further, I notice that Tablet CPA is nearly 5X higher than desktop, this is mostly due to these Mobile App placements.

Tablets vs. Desktop

The Fix

First, we immediately called Google to find out how this even happened. We were informed that even though we opted out of Mobile -100% and excluded GMob Mobile App non-interstitial, we were still eligible to show up on mobile apps without full browser and tablets. In order to prevent this, you need to add as a campaign placement exclusion. We took it a step further and also excluded the Topic Exclusion “Games”.  Within a month, performance made a full recovery and tablets now have 9% lower CPA compared to desktop. We haven’t seen anymore Mobile App exclusions popping up in the placement report and everything seems to be back to normal.

Tablets After 

Why is this an issue?

One example target audience segment that this could be a huge issue for would be a campaign that targets stay-at-home Mom’s, between the ages of 30 – 40 on Mobile and Tablets. Guess who is probably using that Phone or Tablet more than your target audience? Children. And guess what children like to do when they see a flashy ad that gets in the way of their games? Click on them. This is a tough battle as we continue to live in an Enhanced Campaign world but there is a fix!

Steps To Take To Prevent This:

  1. Go to Shared Library > Campaign Placement Exclusions
  2. Add “” as a placement exclusions and apply to all your campaigns
  3. Set Mobile Bid Modifiers to -100%
  4. Set Category Exclusion for GMob Mobile App non-interstitial
  5. Even take it as far as to use a Topic exclusions and exclude “Games”


Using exclusions is a very important part of optimizing your campaigns to increase efficiency – especially for display. The likely hood of Mobile Apps generating conversions is pretty unlikely for most verticals so I hope you learned some pointers from this article on how to opt-out of mobile apps and take the time to implement this in your campaigns. Thanks for reading and happy optimizing!