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Display Network + Mobile = low quality traffic. How do I fix this?

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# 1
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(Sorry for the long post. But I want to include as much detail as possible to see if maybe someone can help.)


I advertise solely on the display network. (So all of the questions are about GDN.)


Normally, I use target CPA bidding. But performance has been declining over time,and I've gotten lazy, so right now I'm trying to optimize my campaigns. And I've run into a problem that I don't know how to fix.


First of all, this is not a "omg, omg, mobile traffic is horrible, google are crooks, gdn is crap" post.


Mobile traffic on GDN works for me just fine.

As an example, this is my baseline, when using target CPA bidding:





As you can see, while mobile traffic's conversion rate is slightly lower, CPC is lower too, so CPA is still acceptable. CTR is in line.

Basically, I like mobile traffic on GDN. For me, it works just fine.

That's why I don't want to simply set -90% for mobile bid adjustment as would be the first thought when someone isn't happy with the mobile traffic.


Anyway, here is what happened.


Two days ago, I switched my campaigns from target CPA to CPC (with disabled enhanced CPC). I set CPC bid a bit higher than was my average CPC at the time.

I set the daily budget to $350 just to be safe. And started campaigns early in the day, at 1AM.


Also, mobile apps and in-game and AdMob categories were filtered. So we are talking just regular websites.


At 2AM I realized that something is wrong. I lowered the bids, but given the inertia of making changes, my budget was depleted around 3AM.


This is what the hourly dimension looks like:




This is the device segmentation:




As you can see, lots of mobile traffic with no conversions.


I checked the placements, and sure enough, crappy websites like "celebrity gossip", "top ten somethings","you'll never believe this", etc.

(This is important, crappy placements were the major source of clicks for all campaigns with different targeting methods, as I'll explain below.)


Additionally, you can't see this from the overall reports, but the majority of clicks came from sites with insanely high CTR. Something to the tune of 3%-7%. That's on display network. On sites that aren't targeted to my offer. Where sites that are relevant to my offer produce CTR in the range of 0.15%-0.5%.


Also, today I tried it again, but changed the ads from problem-oriented to solution-oriented. Normally, solution-oriented ads have much lower CTR, as they should. But in this case, the CTR was just as high.


Which means, most of those click are unintentional. Either interstitials or accidentals on sites that place ads in a way to get users to click them while doing something else. This is not fraud. It's just the way it works on mobile with some websites. You could place a 300x250 ad unit, make it non-responsive, and on a smartphone it would occupy half of the screen. And something like 3%-7% of people would click on the ad accidentally while simply trying to scroll down the page.


If you have a website like "10 most shocking pictures of some celebrity", and have a "next" button after each pic, and somewhere on pic 7, you place 300x250 ad unit instead of the "next" button -- you'll get insane CTR from uninterested visitors. Again, this is not fraud. It's just the way it works on smartphones. That same web page, displayed on computer, would look just fine.


Now, to the solution.


I don't want to set mobile bid adjustment to -90% because I do want to advertise to smartphone users.


I could try to filter those websites, but there are too many of them. It would always be reactive. And, as you saw above, I simply wouldn't have time to react. If I start each day with throwing away my budget just to get a new list of sites to filter -- I would go broke pretty quickly without any conversions to show for it.


Using non-accelerated budget wouldn't help either. It would just prolong the process.


If instead, rather than filtering placements, I would only advertise on specific placements -- that would defeat the purpose of using other targeting methods. I already have a list of managed placements.


On top of that, here is a pic from today. This is from a campaign that uses both keywords and audiences for targeting.

It uses my theme keywords with audiences that consist of those similar to my landing page visitors, to my converters, and to my existing users/customers.




As you can see, which is really weird, even limiting targeting to similar audiences didn't help. My ads were shown on crappy sites to mobile users. It's as if the audiences weren't even taken into account, and neither were keywords.


And this is even more weird:




This is from a campaign that uses keywords and a remarketing list of my landing page visitors. The same thing. Crappy automatic placements + mobile traffic. It's not a lot, so no conversion data, but it looks like my remarketing list was poisoned by all those yesterday's irrelevant clickers. Which really sucks.


Here is another one from yesterday, this is for targeting by affinity audiences. When using target cpa bidding, it performs very well for me. Switched to CPC, this is what I got:




Again, crappy placements, and mostly mobile traffic with insanely high CTR.


On overall reports, CTR looks like 0.55%, which isn't too high. But when looking at placements, the majority of clicks come from sites that show CTR of 3%,7%,11% and so on. And not based on just one click. It's sustained high CTR. (I just don't want to show placement reports here, since I talk unpleasantly about those websites. Besides, I have nothing personal about them.)


Coupled with the fact that the new ads that should produce much lower CTR still produced the same CTR on those websites, I reach conclusion that those are accidental clicks or rage clicks or annoyance clicks.


As I promised, this is not a post about bashing GDN or mobile traffic. So instead, I would like to hear if you have any ideas on how to proceed?


I would like to scale my campaigns as CPC without using Enhanced CPC for now. Eventually, I'll switch back to Target CPA (and this is plan B if nothing works). But for now, I want to try a hands-on approach, and I want to include mobile traffic.


What would you suggest?


I want mobile traffic. I want people with smartphones. But I need the targeted audience. Not accidental clickers from thousands of crappy websites.

I think it's a positive feedback loop with those sites.

You enable mobile traffic. Your ad gets high CTR (because of accidentals), you get high ad rank on that site. Your ad dominates that site until it bleeds your entire budget. Then another advertiser's turn begins. (Of course on a larger scale with many concurrent advertisers.)


With my targeted sites (good ones), my CPM (a measure of publisher's revenue) is something like $0.20-$0.70. But with these websites, CPM is like $5.00 to 9.00, because of high CTR.


Obviously, there is some way to not target such websites, since when I use target CPA bidding, the system avoids them, and I get decent conversions and clicks from mostly relevant placements.

But I can't figure out how to reproduce it manually.


I'll try adding them to excluded placements. But there are literally thousands of such websites. So it's a loosing battle. I need to figure out a different approach.


1 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Display Network + Mobile = low quality traffic. How do I fix this?

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor
Honestly, the post is very long, many details, and hard to follow. I would suggest to edit it and streamline it to the most relevant metrics and right down to the question;
Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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Display Network + Mobile = low quality traffic. How do I fix this?

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# 3
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Any update on this?  I have exactly the same problem.  Switched to new domain, recreated campaigns so Target CPA isn't available and loads of pure junk traffic.  While your post is verbose, I disagree that it is 'hard to follow' as MosheTLV said.  Please advise.

Display Network + Mobile = low quality traffic. How do I fix this?

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# 4
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