Google has an interesting tightrope to walk with their AdWords platform in that they have two central competing interests:
- They want to make the system intuitive to use and easy for the "tail" of AdWords advertisers to spend money with.
- They need to continue to make AdWords a profitable channel for the top advertisers, who represent the bulk of the money spent on their platform, and they need to present power users with access to power tools.
To date the way they've handled this is to offer defaults on the front end that encourage spending, with advanced features that help optimize larger spends available but less accessible (which possibly accounts for their alarmingly high client churn amongst small businesses).
A great example of this push-spend-in-the-front-intelligent-features-in-the-back is the AdWords IP Exclusion Tool. The tool can be a very handy means of limiting unwanted clicks and impressions, but it's very difficult to find and a bit cumbersome to utilize. This post will walk you through what it does, where to find it, and why you might want to use it.
What is the AdWords IP Exclusion Tool?
The AdWords IP Exclusion Tool is basically the place within AdWords where you designate IP addresses you don't want your AdWords ad to be eligible to show in.
Why Would I Want to Use the IP Exclusion Tool?
The IP exclusion tool allows you to eliminate clicks from IPs you've identified as malicious or irrelevant. This means both hard and soft cost savings:
- Hard Cost - You can actually eliminate irrelevant clicks, meaning a tangible reduction in cost.
- Soft Cost - By eliminating irrelevant impressions, you're increasing your click-through rates and subsequently your Quality Score. This means pricing discounts and improved ad rank.
When Should I Use the IP Exclusion Tool?
There are a number of different reasons you might consider using the IP Exclusion Tool. Some of the most popular are:
- Click Fraud - This is more prevalent on the content network (where you would want to leverage placement exclusion) but you may notice a sudden surge in clicks from a single IP driving up your AdWords spend; possibly a competitor or other malicious agent.
- Competitive Intelligence - You might consider blocking a competitor's IP so they can't see your ads, particularly if you're bidding on their brand terms.
- Limit Impressions from Your Company - You should also block your company's IP address to limit impressions from your own employees that may cost you quality score increases and clicks that can cost you money.
And I'm sure there are several other reasons you may want to block a specific IP (if you have some interesting reasons/examples, please leave them in the comments).
Where Do I Find the AdWords IP Exclusion Tool?
Here's where you see that design conflict: the IP exclusion tool is located within the "opportunities" tab.
Before you can get to the IP exclusion tool, you have to navigate through Google's opportunity tab, which gives you ideas on how to spend more money on things like:
- Increased budget
- New keyword bid ideas
- Keyword ideas
The default driving force for these recommendations is to "increase traffic." In other words: generate more clicks and increased revenue for Google:
Not unlike their emphasis on click-through rate, the only sure winner in increased traffic to your site is Google.
But that's a bit of a digression from our topic: to find the IP exclusion tool you simply need to scroll wayyyyy down the page and look at the left hand side of your screen, under your campaign navigation, in the tools section:
Select more tools, and you'll be taken to a larger list of AdWords tools, including the IP exclusion tool:
Select the IP exclusion tool and you'll be presented with the option to select a campaign. Unfortunately, there's no way to exclude an IP address at the account level, which can be extremely cumbersome if you've built out several campaigns within your account. Either way you want to select the appropriate campaign and click Go:
Next, copy the IP address you'd like to exclude into the tool and click Exclude IP Addresses:
Finally, you can see a list of the IPs you've excluded:
Now, you're able to exclude IP addresses to limit impressions and clicks you don't want - while it may not be ideal for Google, IP exclusion can save you money!