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Jun 29
Whitelists & block lists in programmatic advertising

An overview of whitelists & block lists in programmatic advertising

Marketers and advertisers can use the data generated by their campaigns to optimize throughout that campaign’s life cycle. More specifically, the sites a campaign displays on can be used to better optimize where the ad is being placed and who’s seeing it.

This can be done by creating whitelists and block lists.


A whitelist is a document of preferred lists of sites built by the operator, and oftentimes, specific to the advertiser. Most times, operators will create a list of the places that have seen a high conversion and click-through-rate, or CTR, to work further towards achieving the campaign’s objective.

An operator can tell which sites have achieved these goals and may be worth adding to a whitelist by looking at their detailed reports. From the complete report, compare significantly relevant pieces of data (click-through-rate, conversions, etc.) That will lead advertisers to the top performing sites.

From there, those sites can be added to a whitelist. Once all sites are added to a whitelist, the campaign or ad group with the uploaded list will only bid on placements available on those respective sites. Tip: Add a bid multiplier between 1.25–1.5 to increase your chances of winning the inventory on your whitelist.

This method gives advertisers the transparency they’re looking for. In addition, whitelists help to increase brand safety as they now know precisely where their advertisements are being shown.

Block lists

Block lists, as you can imagine, are the opposite of whitelists.

A block list is a list of websites that you do not want to show your ads on. For example, if an advertiser pulls a report and sees that they have been displaying on and, but those sites actually aren’t relevant to their product or service, they can add those sites to a block list.

Once the list is uploaded to the campaign and added to the ad groups, it’s guaranteed that their ads will no longer show on those sites. Creating a block list will also help operators achieve their brand safety objectives and fight off ad fraud.

About The Author

Megan Sullivan-Jenks is director of marketing & communications at Choozle – Easy Digital Advertising®. A self-proclaimed tinkerer, Megan's a problem solver for marketing and advertising strategies and execution. From nonprofits to consumer goods and software, she's an expert at creating online and offline marketing & communications strategies that are engaging and results-driven. Outside of the office, Megan rolls up her sleeves to enjoy all things DIY like sewing and woodworking.