What You Need to Know About Google Ads’ New Character Limit

If you’ve ever created content on Google Ads (or Twitter), then you have felt the constraints of character limits. We’ve all been there. You come so close to saying exactly what you want to say, only to find out that you’re at 141 of 140 characters, and you’ve already consolidated with as many contractions & symbol replacements as you could.

With the release of expanded text ads, Google has once again broken (or at least loosened) the character limit chains that bind advertisers. Google made a similar update in 2016 when it introduced the ability (and now requirement) to include 2 headlines instead of 1, but they’ve taken this update a step further – you can add a third headline, a second description, and use up to 90 characters for each description. That’s a nearly 2x increase in ad size – from 140 characters to 270!

Characters can be hard to visualize, so let’s see it in action:

syrup example of google ads new character limitSyrup example of Google Ads new character limit

At first glance, the new format is already more prominent and eye-catching. The addition of the third headline is a great area to showcase something that differentiates your brand, promote special offers, include a call to action, etc. In this example, we included context on who Syrup is for, driving more relevant traffic to the site and immediately building a connection with the audience. As far as the description goes, the addition of the second description alleviates the pressure of summing up your entire business in 80 characters. It gives you the opportunity to provide more context on who you are, what you do, and how you do it.

With any new update, it’s important to monitor the impact that these changes can have on performance, as it may change the benchmark that you currently measure performance against. As you add expanded text ads in market, keep an eye on these metrics that may be affected:

  1. Average position. Google’s algorithm is the mystery that can never fully be solved, no matter how much we’d all like it to, so we can’t be positive about the impact that ad size is going to have on the way that Google serves them. Will larger ads mean fewer will serve above organic results, leading to a more competitive landscape for ad position? Or will Google continue the same volume of ad delivery, leading to a more competitive landscape for organic results and increasing the need for optimized SEO?
  2. CPC. If these expanded ads create an increase in competition for ad position, then we will see that reflected in CPC as well, as advertisers will have to bid more aggressively at a higher CPC in order to maintain their position.
  3. CTR. Google has already predicted that CTR will go up for these expanded text ads, but it’s something that needs to be monitored to see if these predictions match reality. Try testing the new format directly against the old format by keeping the first description and two headlines the same and comparing performance.

Over the last few months, Google has been making changes left and right – from the interface updates to the name change – they’ve given a major makeover to the “Adwords” we once knew. The way that people search is continually changing and Google makes updates to follow suit. The new expanded text ads provide a greater opportunity to get in front of potential customers and give advertisers the ability to better control the messaging. Give them a go and see how they work for you.

Mary McPartlan