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Navigating Google Ads' New Exclusion Limit

April 17, 2024
5 min read

Google Ads now limits you to excluding a maximum of 120 countries from your campaigns.

Why the change? Google wants advertisers to focus on who they want to see their ads (positive targeting) instead of who they want to exclude (blanket exclusions). They say this won't hurt your campaign performance.

What this means for you:

  • If you usually exclude a lot of countries, you'll need to adjust your targeting strategy for new campaigns.
  • Don't worry, you can still control who sees your ads. Focus on the specific locations where your ideal customers are.

Here's what we'll cover in this section:

  • A quick refresher on country exclusions
  • Why exclusions are important (and still will be)
  • How the changes might affect your campaigns
  • Actionable tips to get the most out of your geo-targeting

Targeting the Right Audience: Why Location Exclusions Matter

Selling your product globally? Great! But you probably don't want your ads shown everywhere.

That's where country location exclusions come in. They let you block your ads from appearing in specific countries. 

This helps you with:

  • Focusing your budget: Reach the people most likely to be interested in what you offer.
  • Avoiding irrelevant clicks: Don't waste money on clicks from areas where you don't do business.

Don't Waste Your Ad Spend: Why Location Exclusions Matter

Country location exclusions are your secret weapon for getting the most out of your Google Ads budget. Here's why:

  • Stop throwing money away: Don't pay for clicks from places where you can't sell your product or service.
  • Target high-converting countries: Focus your ads on regions where people are more likely to buy.
  • Launch new markets strategically: Build brand awareness without wasting budget in irrelevant locations.
  • Safety net for geo-targeting: Ensure your ads only appear where you intend them to.

Google Ads Limits Exclusions: How Marketers Need to Adapt

Heads up, marketers! Google Ads now limits you to excluding a maximum of 120 countries per campaign.

This might affect you if you used to exclude most countries and target just a few. Here's what you need to do:

  • Review your exclusion lists: Those long lists might not work anymore.
  • Prioritize your targets: Focus on excluding countries truly irrelevant to your campaigns.
  • Embrace positive targeting: Instead of excluding everywhere, target the specific locations where your ideal customers are.

The New Way to Target Your Audience: Positive Geo-Targeting

The recent changes to country exclusions might seem limiting, but there's a bright side! Here's what you need to know:

  • Focus on who you want to reach: Positive geo-targeting lets you target specific locations where your ideal customers are.
  • No need to exclude everything: Instead of blocking a bunch of countries, target the ones that matter most. Google's constantly improving geo-targeting accuracy, so performance shouldn't be impacted significantly.
  • Monitor Your Campaigns Closely: Keep an eye on where your ads are showing to make sure they're reaching the right audience.

Adapt Your Campaigns: Action Steps for Marketers

The new limit on country exclusions might require some adjustments, but don't worry! Here's what you can do:

Track Unexpected Impressions:

  • You'll likely need to trim your exclusion list. But before you cut, make sure you're not accidentally excluding valuable locations.
  • Set up reports to monitor impressions and catch any previously excluded areas that start showing your ads.
  • Many PPC management softwares offer reporting tools to help you track this.

Optmyzr has come up with some simple reporting logic to get feedback on your campaigns, and discover if your previous geo exclusions start gaining impressions.

Focus on Physical Location: 

  • By default, your ads might target people who are interested in your area, not just those physically there.
  • Change your location setting to "Presence only" to ensure your ads reach people actually in your target locations.
  • This can significantly improve your ad spend efficiency.

Anticipating the Future

The recent implementation of a 120-country exclusion limit underscores the necessity of adaptability in paid advertising. Unforeseen changes can significantly impact campaign strategies and overall Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). Marketers must embrace a proactive approach to geo-targeting to avoid undesired impressions from outside their intended audience.

Google suggests that marketers who employ effective positive geo-targeting strategies should remain unaffected by this adjustment. However, some argue that country exclusions are crucial for maintaining ad relevance.

For those with extensive lists of country exclusions, it's essential to ensure the exclusion list is optimized and to adhere to positive geo-targeting best practices diligently. This proactive approach will help maintain campaign effectiveness and maximize ROI.

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