Troubleshoot unwanted ads

Unwanted ads can be blocked with "Ad content" rules under Protections

The "Ad content" rule type under Protections allows your network to block unwanted ads from serving to Private Auctions or the Open Auction. These rules restrict the type of ads allowed to serve on your websites or apps. They help protect your brand and manage the experience users encounter with ads when visiting your websites or apps.

Sometimes, unwanted ads continue to appear despite setting "Ad content" rules to block undesirable ads or experiences. This might mean that new "Ad content" rules need to be created or existing rules updated.

Before changing settings or removing rules under Protections, consult your wider organization, ad operations, or your manager. There may be strong reasons for their current configuration or existence. 

Where blocks apply

Rules created under Protections apply only to Private Auctions, except for "Advertisers/Brand," "Buyer," "Inventory Exclusions," and "Custom labels." All blocks apply to Open Auction except "Custom labels." "Buyer blocks" and "Advertisers/Brand" apply to Open Auction and First Look only. Learn more about protections eligibility.

Protections do not apply to:

  • Programmatic Direct (both Programmatic Guaranteed and Preferred Deals) campaigns created under the "Sales" tab
  • Guaranteed campaigns created under the "Delivery" tab
  • Private Auction where the overriding blocks feature was enabled

By default, "Ad content" rules apply to all inventory unless you add targeting.

Learn more about:

Override blocks in Private Auctions

If a creative didn't serve as expected via a Private Auction, you can consider overriding blocks for the Private Auction. Doing so means that the "Ad content" rules set up via Protections won't apply to the Private Auction anymore, and creatives normally restricted on your websites or apps will be allowed for requests fulfilled by that Private Auction.

Ad experience controls still apply when using block override in Private Auctions.

Learn more about Private Auction troubleshooting.

Help me troubleshoot

Get started

  1. Sign in to Google Ad Manager.
  2. Click Reporting and then Reports.
  3. Click New report.
  4. Choose the Historical report.
  5. View the ad request dates in the report and verify when the block was set in your network's change history.

Property codes

Verify that the property code associated with the ad is the same one associated with your Ad Manager account. Confirm that the ad units on the page are prefixed by the same property code from the account where you set the block.

Block types

Below are some block types that can be configured in "Ad content" rules and what you can do to troubleshoot. 

General and sensitive categories

There are two block types for categories. "General categories" restrict ads from high-level subject matters, such as apparel, finance, or medical condition. "Sensitive categories" restrict ads from topics like politics, religion, gambling, or drugs.

Ensure that undesired categories are blocked to avoid unwanted ads.

Ad technologies

Buyers in the Open Auction and Private Auctions can engage various third-party vendors to serve ads or provide other ad serving services and technologies. These technologies include rendering the ad on behalf of buyers, research technologies, or remarketing.

By default, these third-party vendors are blocked from serving ads to the Open Auction and Private Auctions. Each vendor must be explicitly approved to run on ads on your website or apps.

A list of vendors can be found in "Ad technologies" under the "Opt-ins" section of "Ad content" rules. If a vendor isn't selected, then it's blocked from serving ads. If it is selected, then it's approved to run ads.


You can block certain advertisers or brands from serving on your websites or apps. Brands are subcategories to advertisers. For example, a food manufacturer is the advertiser, while a cereal they manufacture is a brand.

  • Ensure that the right advertisers or brands are specified. 
  • Create a Historical report for the advertiser and the pricing rule to determine whether the ad was served using the pricing rule where the advertiser was blocked, or if it was serving from a different rule.
    • If the ad was served using a different pricing rule, you may want to adjust the priority of your blocking rule to ensure that it supersedes the pricing rule that the unwanted ad was served from.
  • Create another Historical report for the advertiser and brand to determine if the ad was served using a different brand of the same advertiser.
  • If you’ve only blocked a specific brand, block the advertiser, too.

Advertiser URLs

  • Ensure that the advertiser URL associated with the unwanted ad matches the one in your blocking rules.
  • If the correct advertiser URL is blocked, confirm if the advertiser URL is blocked in the everything rule or in a different rule that only targets specific inventory.
  • If the rule only targets specific inventory, ensure that the correct inventory is included and add it if not.
  • If the URL you have blocked contains "www", add an additional entry without it and vice versa.
    • For instance, if you want to block ads from "", please include entries for both "" and "". Learn more about blocking advertiser URLs.


If a rule block types appear to be configured correctly but an unwanted ad continues to appear, it may be that the rule contains targeting. A rule with targeting only applies to the inventory specified. 

Note the inventory to which the unwanted ad is serving and add targeting in order to protect that inventory. As always, before you change targeting, consult with to your wider organization, ad operations, or your manager to ensure you're not compromising policy or putting your brand at risk.


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