Google updating site category exclusion options for Google Display Network campaigns

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Google is refining the options it gives advertisers for excluding categories of sites from their display network campaigns on the Google Display Network.

With this change, several current site category exclusions are being eliminated or recategorized, and a couple of new ones are being added. As of last week, several exclusions are no longer available for newDisplay campaigns. In early 2018, all existing campaigns will be switched over to the new settings automatically.

Google began showing an alert in the site category exclusions menu last week. Users with older campaigns may see the following options, shared on Twitter by digital marketer Steve Seeley:

Newer campaigns show an updated version of the site category exclusion options.

What is changing?

There are five primary changes, outlined in a support page:

  • Roll-up: The “Crime, police, and emergency,” “ Military and international conflict” and “Death and tragedy” categories are being rolled up into the “Tragedy and conflict” exclusion category.
  • New: There is a new category for “Sensitive social issues,” which includes content “related to discrimination and identity relations, scandals and investigations, reproductive rights, firearms and weapons and more.”
  • New: Another new category is “Content suitable for families.” Note that if you exclude “General audiences (DL-G),” that will also exclude content suitable for families.
  • Removed: The gambling and error pages categories are being eliminated, since Google already restricts ads on those types of content.
  • Removed: The Forums, Social networks, Photo-sharing pages, and Video-sharing pages options are going away, too. Instead, Google recommends using “Digital content labels” such as Mature audiences and Content not yet labeled, and other “Sensitive content” exclusions to restrict ads from showing on various types of user-generated and social content.

(In the new AdWords interface, Site category options are called Content options.)

Why is Google making these changes?

The changes relate to the announcements earlier this spring and summer of changes Google is implementing in response to advertisers pulling their ads from YouTube after ads were found appearing next to extremist content.

This latest update is part of a larger update to simplify the management of exclusions and align Display and Video controls. An earlier update added the ability to set exclusions at the account level rather than just at the individual campaign level.

A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land that the company is recommending advertisers use the Digital Content and Sensitive Content Labels to achieve their “brand suitability” goals rather than many of the individual category exclusions.

We have a running timeline related to Google and YouTube’s brand safety announcements and updates on Marketing Land.

Next steps

Google recommends advertisers make adjustments to existing campaigns manually by the end of the year, ahead of the switch in 2018.

About The Author

As Third Door Media’s paid media reporter, Ginny Marvin writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies and can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.


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