Excluded placements, negative sites, blocked domains… call ’em what you want; the point is, sometimes you don’t want your ads showing up on certain websites on Google’s Content Network because they’re costly, they’re not converting well, and/or they’re just irrelevant to your offer.


Be absolutely sure to exclude unwanted sites.

Just recently, I was analyzing the performance of a Content campaign where I already had “www.myspace.com” blocked as a placement previously, as I found it to be a waste of money. However, the performance of my campaign hadn’t improved. After running a domain-level placement performance report, I saw that I was still showing up on MySpace and accruing clicks and ad spend (with no conversions, unsurprisingly). I thought to myself, doth my eyes deceive me?

Only after analyzing the URLs of that particular “blocked” domain and a quick email exchange with my friendly Google rep did I finally find the real reason my ads were still showing. So no, my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me—let me explain.

When creating a Content campaign, you may take a preemptive strike and exclude a site right off the bat because you’ve had some experience before with poor-converting sites in other campaigns. Another approach is to run a placement performance report after running the campaign for a few days and excluding any placements as you see fit. Or, just use the Networks tab in the new AdWords interface! Either way, if you’re typing in excluded placements yourself using the interface or AdWords Editor, you should be aware that the format of your excluded placement matters A LOT.

For example, let’s say that you don’t want the 13 year olds on MySpace clicking on your ads for fun, as was my case. So you go to exclude MySpace by entering in “www.myspace.com” as a negative placement assuming that your ads won’t show up anywhere on that particular domain. However, due to the way Google treats the technical implications of adding variances of domains or URLs as a negative placement, your ads could still potentially show up on URLs such as:

Why? It’s because placement exclusions operate at the URL level, NOT the domain level. So if you want to be absolutely sure that your ads don’t show up anywhere on a particular domain (meaning no subdomains, directory names, individual pages, etc.), then enter your excluded placement as “domain.com”, not “www.domain.com”.

Here are a few more examples:

If you enter “myspace.com” as an excluded placement…

If you enter “www.myspace.com” as an excluded placement…

For more information about excluding placements, please click here.