Google’s Smart Shopping is a fantastic new campaign type that often outperforms manual shopping campaigns. One of the downsides has been a lack of control in areas like where and how ads are shown, and being able to choose to optimize toward new buyers rather than sales. While there are still more controls we’d like to see, we’ve found a way you can now negate poor performing mobile app placements in Smart Shopping campaigns.

Because Smart Shopping chooses the places to serve your ads, it will sometimes serve them on new mobile apps that create negative performance issues. We see many advertisers getting bursts of traffic on their sites, 10-12x the norm in a short period of time with bounce rates over 90%, from new mobile app placements. Such traffic bursts can also bog down website servers, degrading site speed for all users. The screenshot below shows one example of week-over-week traffic increases from just a few placements. In this case, this traffic drove no sales.

google analytics week over week changes in a smart shopping campaign

How To:

In Google Ads, navigate to “Placements” and then “Exclusions.”

Google Analytics placements

Click the circled pencil, and ensure you exclude from “Account” and not “Campaign” or “Ad group,” otherwise Smart Shopping won’t be available. Currently, the only way to exclude any placements in Smart Shopping is at the account level.

Account-Level Exclusions in Google Ads

Note: If you choose to exclude “App Categories,” no traffic will actually be excluded. This seems to be a bug, and Google is working on it at the time of this post. Also, you do not want to use “Apps” and search for your app as this doesn’t pull up the correct app (shown below).

Excluding Specific Apps in Google Ads

To actually exclude specific apps, you’ll need to start by searching for the app you want to exclude on the Google Play Store and/or Apple App Store web interfaces.

For Google Play, you will want to copy all the information after the “id=” in the URL string, but before the next parameter, marked by an “&.”

App Placement Exclusions URL String

For the Apple App Store, you will want the ID number in the URL string.

Apple App Store URL String

Copy those into a notepad. We are now ready to go back to Google Ads and add our exclusions. Click the button “Enter multiple placements,” and an area for you to type will show.

Enter Multiple Placement Exclusions in Google Ads

For Google Ads to recognize these mobile apps, you need to add an identifier to the text when excluding, and this needs to go before what you just copied in the URLs. For Apple, you will add “mobileapp::1-” and for Google Play, you will add “mobileapp::2-.” To finish these, add the URL information after the dash (screenshot below).

After these are entered, you can click “Add x Placements” at the bottom.

Exclude Multiple Placements in Google Ads

If you formatted the placements correctly, you should see them populate on the right side with the correct app name. If there is an issue with the formatting, you won’t be able to add the placements. Finally, save your work, and you’re finished.

Exclude Specific Placements in Smart Shopping

That’s it! You’ve now successfully excluded some pesky, unwanted apps from serving your Smart Shopping campaign ads. Keep in mind that this is an account-wide exclusion, which means your other display and YouTube campaigns in the account will also not show ads in these placements. We’ve independently tested this method and confirmed that traffic from the targeted apps is fully blocked if you’ve successfully added the exclusion.

Are your Shopping campaigns getting this kind of TLC and creative improvements? Contact our team if you’re interested in learning more about negating placements, Smart Shopping and more.