Brand inclusions in Google Ads

A while back Google introduced brand restrictions. And the name, honestly, was confusing as we also have brand exclusions. But those are not the same. The opposite, actually.

I guess that’s why they changed the name to Brand inclusions. A lot better.

Regardless of how it is called now or may be called in the future, let’s look at what it is, how to use it, and if you need it.


What are brand inclusions (restrictions)?

Brand inclusions will ensure that your search ads are limited to the brands you select. Let’s further dissect this.

If we take Nike, for example, they might just have “nike” or [nike] in the ad group and bid on those terms. But we know that people search for various Nike products, like. “Nike Air,” or “Nike shoes,” etc.

You might capture most of that traffic by having just the word “Nike” in the ad group. But you will be limited in what you can write in the ad or where to direct the users after the click.

So, you would have to use phrase match for keywords like “Nike shoes”, because if you use broad match you will get searches contextually similar to your brand name and its variations.

With brand inclusions, you can specify the brand; in this case, Nike and Google will limit the searches and show ads only if they relate to the selected brand. So, you can use broad match types with your brand terms.


Remember that brand inclusions are not based on keywords like negative keywords. Here’s what Google says about those differences.

In other words, what you select as a brand has more to do with the actual company and not the keyword. They offer more comprehensive information than the simple keywords (or negative keywords) used in regular marketing campaigns.

But you can’t add any brand; you have to create a list, and that list contains predefined brands from Google.



How to create a brand list?

If you want to add brand inclusions, you have to create a list of brands you want to add. Go to Tools > Shared library > Brand lists.



When you click to create a list you will have to enter a list name and then start selecting brands.



You may notice that it not only contains brands, but products and services. It’s not limited to companies. If you see your brand or any brand you want to include, just select it.

If not, then you will have to request that the brand be added. Notice a link Request a brand. Google says it might take 3-6 weeks.


Once the list is created, you can add it to any Search campaigns. It’s only available for Search campaigns at the moment.



Applying a brand list to a campaign

There is a catch. If you want to use a brand list, your campaign has to have broad match keywords only. This setting:



Is this how Google tries to have more broad match keyword campaigns? Who knows. But it’s you who makes the final decision.


If you have that enabled, scroll down while you are in the campaign settings and click on More settings. You should see this:



Then, from here, it’s pretty straightforward. Select your brand list or lists and save. You can have up to 10 lists on a single caampaign.




Recommended brand lists


Your brands, products, services

Obviously, this is the main reason why you would create a brand list. You want to see if having broad match branded keywords will bring more conversions. However, there are also sub-products and sub-brands that are available.

You may have one brand, say Apple, on the list. However, Apple has many products that can also be included, like the iPad or iPhone.



There are two ways you can go about it:

  • One big Apple brands list, where you include everything and add that list to your brand campaign.
  • Smaller brand lists. You can have the main brand in one list, and then if it has additional sub-brands or sub-services add them into separate lists for better control.

Why would you do that? Well, it depends on your campaign’s structure, but you may want to create separate campaigns for those sub-brands (products, services) with their separate budgets, ads, landing pages, etc.




You may have noticed that when creating a list, I can select any brands. There are no restrictions. What about an experiment? Create a brand list with your competitor and target their search terms. See what happens.

In Apple’s case:


I haven’t tested this specifically, so I will leave it to you.


However, I do like bidding on competitor brands with regular Search campaigns. It does not always work, but when it does, you get additional conversions at your competitor’s expense (sort of speaking).


Do you need a brand list?

You probably know what I’m going to say, right? Yes, it depends.


First of all, if you’re not bidding on your brand terms, you probably should even have read the article. But I’m glad you did.


Second of all, your campaign has to be a broad match campaign. This means you might get more traffic due to how broad match works. For now, we don’t know how brand inclusions work, how accurate they are and so on. So you might end up spending more on your brand campaigns. Just for this purpose alone, you should test it, and not just blindly switch.


Third of all, this is more applicable to e-commerce brands as they have a lot of products. If you have a brand campaign where you bid on a few keywords, most likely, you don’t need the list at all. Just keep bidding on your brand terms with phrase or exact match.



Brand exclusions vs brand inclusions

A quick comparison between the two so you would not mix them.


Brand inclusions

Your campaign will only serve for searches associated with the brands you select, which are available for search campaigns only.

Brand exclusions

Your campaign won’t serve for searches associated with a brand that you added — available for Performance Max campaigns. It will be available for Search campaigns later in 2024.


We covered brand inclusions, and I mentioned that exclusions does the opposite. It’s good that we can add them in PMax campaigns, and to be honest can’t wait to have them in Search campaigns as well.