Anyone working with paid search will know what the number sequence 25-35-35 stand for. This is the character limit given (for single byte) in Google AdWords standard text ads (title, line 1, line 2). While this is still true, a recent change with how Google handles the ad copy gives marketers a virtual title length of a maximum of 60 characters.
Because the input field character limitations in AdWords are still the same, Google instead looks for clues in the ad copy to understand when it is suitable for it to dynamically extend the title with the first line of ad body. The simple rule to qualify is that the the first line (following the title) is a distinct sentence, i.e., ends with either a period, question mark or exclamation mark. Google will then dynamically append this line following the title input and add a hyphen in between.
Why is Google doing this? The simple reason? CTR. In tests Google has consistently found that longer titles increase CTR, and hence click volumes and advertiser success. A slightly more cynical view is that this also makes paid advertising blend more with the organic results (hence the improved CTR), and consequently increases Google’s bottom line. Whether or not this an improved user experience is to be decided at a later stage.
Clever marketers that are on the ball will take note of this small but significant change, and take advantage by making sure that their ad copy is appropriately formatted to qualify for longer ad titles. During anecdotal research for this post, we noted that many high profile brands still haven’t changed their ad copy to take advantage of this, and therefore are losing out to more savvy competition. They will catch on, however, so time is of the essence in taking advantage of this window of opportunity if you typically compete with high profile brands.
Either way, if you use AdWords, it’s worth checking out to judge if the longer ad titles will work for you or not.