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There is a lot of hubbub flying around Twitter and blogs such as Search Engine Land this week with regards to seeing Google Text Ads truncated across the search engine results pages. People are seeing ads being truncated more often than not these days, so we wanted to explore the hubbub and find out what this really means for you.


What’s happening?

Over the course of 2019, there have been lots of people saying that they are getting their ads truncated more often than not across Desktop and Mobile on Google. Andrea Cruz and Ginny Marvin on Twitter seems to have started the biggest conversation about this recently:

From this, there looks to be a few things happening:

  • Truncating description lines in Ads which are predominantly (but not exclusively) in positions outside of Absolute Top.
  • This seems to vary when Google Shopping Ads are displayed, where even P1 ads look to also be truncated.
  • No Ad Extensions & Sitelinks in any other ad position other than Absolute Top.

This is also confirmed from my searches in the UK too:

Google Text Ads Truncated - Mobile

And the same on Desktop:

Google Text Ads Truncated - Desktop

This doesn’t seem to be happening all of the time, but does seem to be happening more often than not. It seems to vary dependent on how much information is displayed at any one time in the search engine results page.


What does this mean for you?

Google Ads hasn’t confirmed anything yet. Can we expect this to be the new default?

There is yet to be official confirmation from Google Ads on this yet. Most likely, their response will be something like “We are always testing to drive more value for our users” etc. etc. etc. But it does seem strange that this seems to be the default for most searches now across the US & UK in particular. Historically, this usually means that Google have made some changes.

PPC hubbub - LightbulbWe’ll let you know if we hear any official communications from Google Ads.

A way to make the Absolute Top of Page ad even more lucrative?

There is a thought that this could be a way of Google making the highest position ad more lucrative. If the top ad position can make use of more ad extensions than any other position, then surely this would help CTR and therefore drive the best performance. This could be a way for Google to help increase competition for that top spot with the absence of Ad Position Metrics (which are finally sunsetting WC 30th September 2019).

PPC hubbub - LightbulbFocus on Quality Score and Ad Relevance. Make sure you are targeting the right people in the right positions so you can force your ads to appear in the highest positions to maximise the click through opportunity for the lowest cost. 

Should you be utilising all of the characters or even multiple description lines?

Google doesn’t really give very clear guidelines on how many characters you should be using to ensure that your description lines don’t get truncated too often. As Search Engine Land rightly point out, this depends mostly on the pixels rather than the specific character count. For example, wider characters such as ‘m’ use more pixels than shorter characters such as ‘i’. This makes it difficult to determine what the ‘sweet spot’ should be. It seems to be that anything between 80-90 characters looks to get chopped off. It goes without saying that if you are in a lower Ad Position and you are using three description lines, you’ll probably see your text ads being truncated more often than not.

This could be another way for Google Ads to force the increased adoption of Responsive Search Ads. If you used RSA’s you could potentially determine which combination of assets works best, including for character limits.

PPC hubbub - LightbulbYou should probably experiment with the length of your description lines and monitor to see if you see any impact on performance.

It’s more about user context and intent. Your results will be different to mine

Gone are the days where we were confident in the assets we inputted would display most of the time on Google. It’s now ever more about displaying the right ads, in the right way given their context & intent, device, browser etc. Google’s search engine results pages are becoming ever more personalised and focused on the user. This means that your results will be different to mine.

PPC hubbub - LightbulbIf you haven’t got a robust audience and signal strategy in place, you really need to get this sorted out! We’ll be following up with tips in the coming weeks.

This looks more aligned to how Organic Search Results appear

Organic Search in meta descriptions are often truncated, so this change does seem to align closer with how organic is displayed. It could yet be a change that Google are making to align how Paid & Organic search results look.

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Dan Roberts

Founder & Author at PPC hubbub
Dan has worked across different agencies in the UK for over 6 years. He was awarded Rising Star at The Drum Search Awards in 2015. Google voted him as one of the Top 20 Search Specialists in the UK. He founded PPC hubbub after becoming frustrated with the lack of actionable insight from blogs.

LinkedIn - https://uk.linkedin.com/in/siondanielroberts
Dan Roberts
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