Beginner’s Guide to Inclusion Lists

Advertising can be a confusing field to break into. It seems like industry terms are just thrown around without any explanation, leaving you feeling totally lost. Thankfully, we are here to help you learn more about this field and some of its most important concepts — take inclusion lists, for example. 

Perhaps you’ve heard of exclusion lists before, but haven’t heard much about inclusion lists. As it turns out, inclusion lists are just as important as exclusion lists.

So, read on for the beginner’s guide to inclusion lists and learn everything you need to know about this concept so that you can take your company’s advertising strategy to the next level.  

What is an Inclusion List?

Starting with the basics, what is an inclusion list? 

An inclusion list consists of channels, publishers, content owners, influencers, and creators whose content aligns well with your own. 

In these cases, you would want to place your content in these idealized and optimized locations. These sources and locations have been well-vetted and have been proven safe and effective for your brand. That way, your content will actually be what viewers want to see based on the location and the existing content surrounding yours. 

This makes your brand’s content more likely to appeal to them and hopefully earn you a new customer as a result of your smart advertising practices. 

Why Are Inclusion Lists Important?

Now that you know what an inclusion list is, you’re probably wondering what makes this information worth knowing. After all, you’re a business owner with a ton of different things on your plate that you’re trying to juggle all at the same time. Your time is valuable, and we aren’t here to waste it. In fact, quite the opposite. Inclusion lists are an important and worthwhile concept for any company that’s looking to optimize its advertising and reach the right people with the right content.

Here are just a few reasons why inclusion lists are so important for your business:

  • Inclusion lists allow your company to be seen alongside channels and publishers that share similar beliefs and values. That way, you can still appear alongside content that may have otherwise been filtered out by one size fits all exclusion lists, so long as the content creator promotes your same beliefs and values that your brand holds dear. 
  • Inclusion lists allow your content to be seen by people who can be described as your target audience. By placing your content in strategic places, you can better reach your target audience who may be viewing those channels or platforms. When they see your content, it will be more likely to appeal to them than to random viewers who may not relate to your brand or products. For example, if you have a beauty brand, you can include trusted beauty influencers on your inclusion list. From there, you can reach viewers who are clearly interested in beauty products and are more likely to respond to your beauty-related content as a result. 
  • Inclusion lists allow you to actually tailor down your exclusion lists so that you can appear next to more positive content rather than focusing on avoiding negative content. Tons of things can be unintentionally blocked as a result of the intricacies of our language, as many words can have multiple meanings, slang meanings, or even change meanings over time. By focusing on the positive rather than the negative, you can get your content in the right places in front of the right people instead of just focusing on keeping it away from the wrong places. 

How Do You Create an Inclusion List?

So inclusion lists are clearly important, but how do you go about creating them? After all, we have stated that the one size fits all approach really doesn’t work here. That’s why the best approach to creating an inclusion list is to really reflect on your brand’s values and beliefs in order to seek out corresponding channels and producers.

Here are some steps that you can take to create an effective inclusion list for your brand:

  • Develop brand guidelines as a starting point for your inclusion list. Think about what types of things you’d like to include based on your industry. Then think about what types of things you’d like to include based on your unique brand persona and values. Finally, think about your target customer and what their values may be. 
  • From there, you can build your inclusion list by vetting different sources of content and coming up with a list of sources that you can trust based on their values. 
  • After setting your initial inclusion list, you need to continuously review and adjust this list to keep up with the times. 
  • Remember to consider different languages and cultural contexts when creating your inclusion lists if you’re looking to advertise in different international markets. What may work in one country may not work in another. 
  • Finally, combine the power of technology with the experience of industry experts  to help you with this in-depth and easily overwhelming task. Technology can help you find potential safe options from all the sources out there whereas humans can vet them and confirm that they are safe and 100% align with your brand. 

What About Block Lists?

On the other hand, there are block lists or exclusion lists. A block list consists of channels, keywords, and locations with content that doesn’t align well with your own. 

Oftentimes, this is the area that many brands choose to solely focus on while totally overlooking inclusion lists. In these cases, it all comes down to brand safety. Avoiding dangerous or negative content is certainly one way to protect your brand, but does it really allow you to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to your marketing budget

We argue that exclusion lists need to be used in concert with inclusion lists. It’s not enough to simply avoid negative content, you also need to seek out positive content that will actually help to boost your brand. Obviously, this is easier said than done. 

The good news is that there are ways that you can effectively establish both exclusion and inclusion lists that work together to place your content in the best possible locations. 

One way to do this is to consult with the experts here at Channel Factory. We know all the ins and outs of brand safety and brand suitability. We are able to help you develop exclusion and inclusion lists based on what types of content you wish to avoid versus embrace. 

But the buck doesn’t stop there. In fact, Channel Factory can also help you continuously fine-tune these lists to keep up with our constantly changing world. Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes that many brands make is to just set a universal exclusion list once and never think about it again. As events happen, times change, and even your brand changes, you need to continuously check and adjust these lists to make sure that they are still on-point for your brand as well as the current climate. 


And there you have it: the beginner’s guide to inclusion lists. Hopefully by now you’re no longer a beginner. 

However, if you find yourself still lacking in brand safety and suitability expertise, be sure to reach out to us here at Channel Factory —  we can help your brand be the best it can be as we head into the new year. With our help, 2021 can be the year you make some big progress towards your business goals. 


  1. It’s time to value inclusion over exclusion in marketing | New Digital Age 
  2. The Beginners Guide To Brand Values (+ Examples of Core Values)
  3. Forbes – How to Maximize Your Marketing Budget