For you avid Google Adwords users out there, you’ve likely come across the word “Anonymous” within the world of display advertising placements. We recently tried to find some placements for a client, and say “Anonymous” for the top 4 of 5 listings we targeted. Great. These anonymous placements are capturing millions of page views each month (apparently related to my topic), but for some reason, I’m unable to see what they are. Unfortunately for our clients, this uncertainty wouldn’t do… branding is a big deal, and where your ads show up is something that needs to be controlled. Anyways, we recently had a discussion with Google on why such anonymous placement exists in the first place. Here’s their response:

“Basically, some publishers opt to offer their placements anonymously so their website names aren’t disclosed to advertisers. Some publishers prefer that the ads on their website are targeted contextually based on advertiser’s keywords. By doing this, most of the ads will be relevant to the website’s content rather than the website’s audience.
For example, a makeup article on an “anonymous” website, would have ads that match the content of that article, such as ads regarding mascara, blush, etc. rather than ads that pertain to the audience.”

Okay, fair enough, or at a minimum understandable. Well, this wasn’t really a solution to our problem of determining the exact placements of these anonymous listings, so we devised a test. We built a variety of ad groups targeting one anonymous placements at a time. We made the ad group name the same as the anonymous listing – they usually are named something like anonymous.718294050 or something. We then let the campaigns run for a bit and gather traffic. Some did, some didn’t, and if you’re trying this trick, be sure the ads you’re placing are eligible on the anonymous listing your targeting.

Next, after a few days, head over to your linked Google Analytics, pull up your Ad groups that you just built and apply the “Placements” filter. When we did this, we got the following URL: Much like the Google’s representatives example, sites like which sell a lot of products, fit the bill. This trick helped us weed out some display placements we didn’t want and find some new ones that would otherwise have been hidden. Try this trick, and take advantage of Anonymous Placements for your clients!

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Brian Siddle

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