What is ad truncation?

You've probably heard a great deal about ad truncation floating about at the moment, but what does it mean? Well, essentially it means Google is cutting off some of your ad text when displayed. Like this:

ad truncation in the google serp

why are they doing that?

It all comes down to what characters you are using to fill your headline, while you’re given 30 characters for each of your three headlines, Google recommends only using 33 across all of them to make way for chunkier characters. Truncation happened even before Google released the new third headline option, it isn’t a new problem, it just seems to be more common now.

But the bottom line is: if your headlines consist of a lot of ‘m’s’ it will have a wider pixel count than headlines consisting of a lot of ‘i’s’.

Unfortunately, there’s no recommendation for the description length, but that means test your little heart out with description lengths until you’re happy. (but don’t put any USP’s or CTA’s in a place that it might get cut off).

Overall, Google is constantly changing & testing new ways to display our ads. As advertisers we don’t have control over how Google displays our ads to users, it varies from so much due to a bunch of factors like; device, browser, context, & user intent.

tweet about ad truncation

In the original tweet from @andreacruz92 which sparked the whole conversation on truncated ads last month she said that she hadn’t seen it on any brand terms however in writing this blog post I discovered that it was impacting some brand searches as well as top of page searches, which highlights why it is a concern to advertisers.

ad truncation on a brand search

why should i care though?

Well, the ads are being cut up, you can’t combat that, so if you’re advertising in Google, your ads may also be getting cut up. This could make it perform worse, it isn’t exactly an attractive quality for an ad to have. Plus if your CTA is at the end of your ad it could be getting cut off.

On top of that, it means you have to test a whole new range of circumstances, shorter descriptions, not making use of the second description etc.

How do i find out if my ads are being truncated?

Google has an ad preview tool, not that it’s always 100% accurate but it’s nice to have a rough idea of if your ad is being cut up - you could also do a search for it yourself in Google to see it live & in action.

triple truncation

The conspiracy behind it.

At first, it was thought that this could be a way to make absolute top of page more lucrative? If the top ad is least likely to be truncated, and most likely to show extensions which in turn will show a higher CTR and best performance. However, as we’ve seen from the images I’ve attached to this blog, which I found in just a few simple web searches, truncation is happening across all positions.

Is this Google increasing competition for the top spot and nudging the advertisers that enjoy sitting pretty in second place to push their budgets harder? - Probably not, I think it might be a case of trusting Google when they say that our characters are too lengthy.

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Meet the author ...

Maddie Crawford

Senior PPC Executive

Maddie works in the PPC team. This means that she spends her time looking after our clients' paid ads accounts, covering platforms like Google, Microsoft, Apple & Amazon. ...