7 ways to prevent low quality placements in your Google Ads campaigns

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Are you running Google Display ad campaigns, and seeing insanely good view rates on yours or your clients video ads? Before you get carried away, it’s best to check a few things first.

Having run countless client ad campaigns, I’ve learnt the hard way, that quite often all is not what it seems.

Head to the Placements tab of your Google Ad campaign, and take a look at “Where ads appeared”. This will give you a breakdown of the exact placements where your ads appeared, and more importantly, where they were clicked. This can either be websites, mobile apps or individual YouTube channels.

This information is gold. Why? Because it can save you a lot of wasted spend.

Order the list by clicks, and have a look through the most clicked placements. Chances are, if you haven’t employed any exclusions on your targeting, you will see lots of irrelevant placements. For example:

Mobile gaming apps

More often than not, these will represent your highest click through rates (CTRs). Largely due to the fact ads are placed slap bang in the middle or bottom of the screen of a game that requires a lot of tapping. And as a result, a lot of accidental tapping. Let’s face it, who is interested in clicking an ad when they are in the middle of an important level of Candy Crush?

Children related YouTube channels

Are you seeing a strangely high number of clicks made via Peppa Pig videos? Then you may have a problem. Consider for a second the number of parents handing over their tablet or mobile phone, complete with YouTube open, to their child who is crying out for some content. Anything for a quiet life!

As a result, your ads are popping up in the middle of Peppa Pig’s latest adventures, and are getting tapped by the eager fingers of multiple two-year olds seeking their news oversized cartoon pig fix.

Wasted clicks? You betcha.

So what can we do?

Quite simply, it is exclusions. If the kids are over-inflating your metrics, then it’s time to reduce the potential for them to interfere with your ad campaigns. Google don’t make this easy “out of the box”, so we have to be smart with our exclusions:

Exclude gaming apps

The obvious place to start, is excluding apps. Google don’t enable you to easily set a blanket exclusion all apps. To get round this, you need to select app categories individually.

I’d recommend at the very least excluding gaming apps. But also consider excluding anything that a child is likely to be into. Any in app taps from a toddler is worthless.

Head to Placements, Exclusions, and select App Categories:

Exclude Parents

Quite clearly, the people with children, strangely enough, are parents. Fortunately enough, Google enables you to exclude them. And also anyone else it isn’t sure whether they are parents or not. In this instance, it best to play it safe and exclude these also.

Head to Demographics, Parental Status and if it feels right for your brand to do so, exclude “parents” and “unknown”. Bear in mind though, that parents might actually be your target audience, so approach these exclusions with caution. This approach is purely for flatly reducing the opportunity for your ads to appear in cartoons. But of course, there will be instances where the parent does actually get to have a go on YouTube themselves. So approach this with caution, and monitor your KPI’s.

Exclude topics

You can also exclude people based on the topics they are interested in. So this represents another opportunity to exclude parent related interests from your targeting.

Head to the Topics tab, and exclude the following:

Toys, Babies & Toddlers, Nursery & Playroom, Family-Oriented Games & Activities, Cartoons, TV Family-Oriented Shows, Children’s Clothing, Children’s Literature, Youth Organizations & Resources, Early Childhood Education, and Child Care

Excluded content suitable for families

To be extra sure that you have restricted your ads appearing on content a child might be interested, head to the Settings tab and exclude Content suitable for families. You Can also exclude Content not yet labelled.

Exclude keywords

For good measure, you can also exclude keywords, particularly if you are running a Search campaign. A list such as the following are good starting points for a keyword exclusion list:

  • kids

  • children

  • childrens

  • nursery

  • rhyme

  • abc

  • baby

  • kid

  • child

Exclude affinity audiences

Finally, you can also exclude affinity audiences, which in essence are audiences of people with an affinity for certain interests.

Head to Audiences, Exclusions:

A decent starting point here might be:

  • Family television fans

  • Baby & children’s products

  • Baby & children’s clothing

  • Children’s clothing


Over on the twooctobers blog, they have published a comprehensive list of YouTube children related channels which serves as a great exclusion list. You can access the list here:


Just head to the Placements tab, and Exclusions, then click YouTube channels. In here, you can paste the list of YouTube channels for exclusion.

The following articles helped shape this article: https://twooctobers.com/blog/children-are-hurting-your-youtube-performance-heres-how-to-fix-it/ and https://www.reddit.com/r/adops/comments/84kowv/remove_childrens_channels_from_youtube/. Thank you to them both.


When running ad campaigns for clients, quality should always be at the heart of what you do. You will see countless agencies happily peddle excellent metrics to their clients — when in reality, these are caused by an army of under 5’s mindlessly tapping ads as they seek to satisfy their content craving.

Personally, I always believe in full transparency when dealing with my clients. It’s how long-terms, meaningful relationships are built.

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