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Debora Paladino,

Creative Lead,

Admiral Media,

Oct 11, 2023

How to Avoid Brand Exclusion in Google pMax Campaigns?

In the rapidly evolving world of digital advertising, mastering platforms like Google’s and features like Performance Max (pMax) is crucial. But what do you do when the features designed to aid you aren’t as reliable as they seem.

There’s an issue when it comes to the Search network and more specifically Brand Keywords. The Brand Exclusion feature within pMax settings should solve that, but it might not be as reliable as you think.

Avoid Brand Exclusion in Google pMax Campaigns

Real-World Insights into pMax’s Brand Exclusion Efficacy

We explored using the Brand Exclusion feature in pMax settings for one of our client’s campaigns. Our primary goal was to discover if this tool could effectively prevent our ads from appearing during searches for brand-related keywords, thereby allowing us a sharper focus on non-branded terms.

To our surprise, Google representatives warned us that the Brand Exclusion feature might not solve the problem of showing our pMax ads when people search for brand-related keywords.

Here’s the deal: the Brand Exclusion feature in pMax settings isn’t super dependable. Even if you turn it on, there’s no guarantee that your pMax ads won’t pop up when people search for brand-related terms. We learned this the hard way, when 99% of our pMax campaign’s traffic came from brand-related keywords, despite having the Brand Exclusion setting turned on.

Seeking Solutions: Direct and Manual Keyword Exclusion

So, what’s a savvy advertiser must do if they want to keep their pMax ads separate from brand-related keywords? The best bet is to reach out to your Google representative directly and ask for specific brand keywords to be manually excluded from your pMax campaign. It might seem counterintuitive since there’s a built-in feature for this, but it’s a more reliable way to keep your campaign focused.

The big lesson here is that the Brand Exclusion feature isn’t foolproof. Relying solely on it could still get your pMax ads mixed up with brand-related keywords, which isn’t great for your campaign if you want to target new users.

So, if you’re running pMax campaigns, it’s vital to get in touch with your Google representative. Ask them to manually exclude those brand-related keywords at the campaign level. This way, you’ll be sure your campaign stays on track with non-branded keywords.

Maintaining and Analyzing Campaign Performance

Remember, even with manual exclusions in place, a successful ad campaign depends on keeping an eye on how it’s doing. Regularly check your campaign’s performance and check the Search Terms report inside the Insights tab. This will show you what search terms are captured by your pMax campaign and if you are reaching the right audience with the Search network.


The Brand Exclusion feature in pMax settings isn’t the magic solution. Our experience showed that, even when it’s turned on, brand-related keywords can still dominate your pMax campaign. 

To keep control of your pMax campaign and avoid brand-related search traffic, tHowever, by actively engaging with Google representatives and opting for manual brand keyword exclusions, advertisers can take the reins and ensure their campaigns remain focused and effective. Such proactive measures not only offer more control over where ads appear but also boost the chances of reaching the desired audience. 

In the ever-shifting landscape of digital advertising, it’s these precise, hands-on strategies that differentiate a good campaign from a great one. Are you keen on taking your Google Ads to the next level? Get in touch with us and see if we’re a fit!

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