Go-To Filters for the Automatic Placements Report

Oh, the automatic placements report. It’s wonderful and frustrating at the same time. When done right, reviewing the auto placements report can really give you some good nuggets of information for your display campaigns. But all too often, it can be a huge task to take on. There just isn’t enough time in the day to dedicate as much attention as one would like.

For those days when time is short but changes must be made, I’ve come up with a short list of go-to filters to use that can help you keep the good and weed out the bad in your automatic placements report.

Set Up

The first step is to get all the relevant information in one place. For this, I download a campaign level auto placements report (or account level if you’re really low on time) and get all data into an excel pivot table. From there, I can get a high level understanding of how my ads perform on each placement. If running the campaign level reports, know that your data across ad groups will be combined. Columns I include in my report are Domain, Clicks, Impressions, Cost, and Conversions.

The next step is to copy and paste the pivot table onto another sheet within the worksheet to make it usable. For this, you cannot simply copy and paste the entire tab. The pivot table functionality will still be in place. You have to select the cells from A4 (Row Labels) down to the bottom right of your pivot table, copy, then paste to a new sheet. I then add a CPA column by calculating the cost divided by conversions.



At this point, you’re able to see stats for each automatic placement within your campaign.

SITES TO KEEPSites with Conversions

In this first step, we’re looking for sites with good performance in the campaigns. These are sites we’ll want to take out of the rest of the report so they don’t fall into one of our exclusion filters later. My go-to move here is to filter for all sites with at least one conversion, then remove them from the sheet. Easy peasy. This way you’re not excluding something that could be helping the bottom line. Ideally, we would spend more time and look at the quality of each site, but we’ll reserve that for another day when we have a little more time.


Now comes the fun part. Here are my three go-to filters to look for sites to exclude in your campaigns.

Exclude For Zero Clicks

This first filter is designed to help CTR. Depending on the CTR of your campaigns, pick a number of impressions that you feel should have produced at least one click by now. Be sure you use a realistic number. If your CTR is 0.10% and you start excluding sites that haven’t generated after only 100 impressions (giving you a 1% CTR), you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Typically I choose a number around 1,000 impressions, sometimes as high as 2,500. Filter your data to show sites with zero clicks and than set impressions to descending order. Exclude all sites with impressions over the amount you designated.

Exclude for High Cost, No ConversionsCost, No Conversions

This next filter is a no brainer. If an automatic placement is spending tons without converting, add it as an excluded placement. Depending on the account, I usually let a site generate up to one and a half to two times the CPA in spend before excluding it simply because, like keywords or ad groups in search campaigns, some will convert with better CPA than others, but altogether they produce the highest number of conversions at your goal CPA. Filter your report to show cost in descending order. We’ve already taken out all converting sites, so you should only see sites with high spend and zero conversions. Exclude all of the sites that have 2 times the CPA in spend from your campaigns.

Exclude for Irrelevancy

This final filter is a bit different than the last three. Rather than using performance stats, I use the auto-placement URL itself. After running many automatic placement reports, I’ve come up with a list of words or combinations that when found in URLs, usually mean low relevancy for almost any product.

Irrelevancy Filters

(*Note: this is my personal list I’ve put together. Not all of these sites will be irrelevant to you or your clients. I encourage everyone to put together their own similar list and have it on hand when running these reports.)

In the domain portion of your pivot table, type in each one of these separately (yes, it does take a while) and add the URLs found to your excluded placements.