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Brand Lists In Google Ads: What Are They And How To Use Them

4 · by Dennis Moons · Updated on 3 August 2023

Ever since Performance Max campaigns came out, advertisers had been asking Google for a way to add negative keywords.

Google said to wait because they were cooking up something.

And Brand Lists are the result of that.

The interesting thing is that the application of Brand lists is not just limited to Performance Max campaigns not.

So in this article, we’ll look at how brand lists power brand restrictions, and brand exclusions.

What Are Brand Lists in Google Ads?

Brand Lists are a new feature inside of Google Ads that allows you to create, well, lists of brands 🙂

It uses the index Google has of all the different brands. When I’m searching for the Athletic Greens brand, it also shows me related brands like the Bowling Green Athletic Club:

After you’ve created a new list, you can then use it in your campaigns to target or prevent your campaigns from showing up for search queries related to the brands.

Here is how it works:

  • Brand exclusions prevent your Performance Max campaigns from showing up for these brands
  • Brand restrictions make sure your broad match keywords in Search campaigns focus on these brands

If you want to add a brand that’s not included yet, you can click “Request a brand” to add a new one. As more advertisers complete their lists of brands, I assume that this list will grow over time.

Brand Lists vs Negative Keywords

At this point you might wonder about the differences between Brand Lists and negative keyword lists.

Here is what Google is saying:

One benefit of using brand lists instead of keywords is not having to enter misspellings, variants, or versions in multiple languages.

In short: it should cover different variations and misspellings. This would be a step up in trying to nail the exact match types that exclude or include a particular phrase.

Performance Max Brand Exclusions

As I mentioned before, Brand Lists were created to give advertisers a way to exclude brands from pMax, one of the Performance Max best practices.

You can find these options in the settings of your Performance Max campaign, it’s called Brand exclusions:

Using Brand restrictions

Brand lists also have a second application in Search campaigns.

you can use the Brand restrictions setting to limit searches to the brands that you’ve provided in your list.

There are a few requirements to use this feature:

  1. The campaign needs to use a conversion or conversion value-based bidding strategy
  2. Use broad match keywords

If you’re not using broad match keywords and want to use Brand restrictions, you’ll see the following modal pop up:

This will convert all your keywords to broad match, so it’s a pretty intense change 😬

How To Create a New Brand List in Google Ads

To get started with brand lists, you can create a list from the settings of a pMax or Search campaign, or in your accounts Shared Library.

So go to “Tools.” There, you click on “Shared library” in the drop-down menu and click on “Brand lists.” 

Screenshot of Brand Lists

Once you’re there, you can choose a name for your list. (Use a descriptive name so it’s easy to understand which brands are included in this list) 

New account-level brand list

Click on the “Save” button, and voila, your list is ready to use in a campaign.

Did you know?

I have a full course for everything you need to know about Performance Max campaigns? My pMax course consists of 16 educational videos on Performance Max, and it’s the perfect asset for freelancers running ad campaigns in Google Ads for their clients and ecommerce businesses. 


Brand lists are a pretty new feature.

The application for Performance Max is pretty straightforward and will be welcomed by advertisers that want to exclude brands from their campaigns.

But the application of using Brand lists as Brand restrictions is a pretty new development. Time will if and how exactly this can be used!

Dennis Moons

Dennis Moons is the founder and lead instructor at Store Growers.

He's a Google Ads expert with over 12 years of experience in running Google Ads campaigns.

During this time he has managed more than $5 million in ad spend and worked with clients ranging from small businesses to global brands. His goal is to provide advice that allows you to compete effectively in Google Ads.

Follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn.


4 responses on "Brand Lists In Google Ads: What Are They And How To Use Them"

  1. Gerd says:

    Hallo Dennis,

    sehr interessant. Wenn ich richtig verstanden habe werden die gelisteten Marken dann aus möglichen Suchanfragen ausgeschlossen. Wenn ich Sportschuhe bewerbe und Nike auf die Markenliste setze, werden Nike-Suchbegriffe nicht berücksichtigt?
    Gibt es auch die umgekehrte Funktion, dass Markenlisten sozusagen als Whitelist dienen. dass ich also Markennamen in meinen Anzeigen verwenden darf. Wahrscheinlich muss ich mir hier erst die zustimmung des Markeninhabers einholen. geht das auch über Markenlisten?
    Besten Dank & Grüße

    1. Dennis Moons says:

      Hi Gerd,
      That’s correct, if you add Nike to the Brand list, you can exclude nike related terms from your campaigns.

      The second case you mention, only targeting the brands in your lists, is exactly what Brand restrictions will do. Right now, they’re just available for Search Ads. As mentioned here

  2. Jarrett says:

    Hey Dennis! Are brand lists a good option for excluding your own branded terms from campaigns? Or is it more for excluding brands with similar names that can leak into your kw targeting?

    For instance, if I run ads for “Under Armour”, I may want to add a brand list as a negative to exclude “Armor All”. This way all terms related to Armor All spelling variations and terms related to car protectants/cleaners are excluded because they have nothing to do with sports apparrel. But if I want to create a Non Brand PMax campaign and add “” as my exclusion, would you risk excluding valuable keywords like “football cleats” and “athletic shorts”, in addition to “Under Armour” brand terms?

    1. Dennis Moons says:

      Hi Jarett,
      Brand lists are made to exclude branded keywords, misspellings and variations from your campaigns.

      Which brands you put in there is up to you. You can exclude your own brand and/or competitors.

      Your reasoning around Armor All seems sound. And for your non branded pMax campaign, adding “Under Armour” as a brand would exclude search terms that include the brand. So “under armour is excluded, but also “under armour football cleats”.

      One alternative is to exclude the brand from your pMax campaign, and then run a Standard Shopping campaign to pick up these searches.

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