Google Truncated Mobile Ads – How to Fix It

Posted on October 13, 2014 in

The Mobile Change Announcement

On September 10th, 2014, Google AdWords declared they may or may not display the Description Line 2 of smartphone advertisers starting on October 15th. If Google decided not to show it, they said they might show an Extension instead. This announcement was made with little fan fair, but the effects are nothing short of game-changing.

Mobile accounted for 1/3 of all of Google’s paid clicks in the third quarter of 2013, and Google expects them to account for 50% of their paid clicks by the end of 2015. Any change to mobile ads will clearly create a major change to most accounts.

The Problem

The first thing that occurred me is my tendency toward placing my Call-to-Actions in Description Line 2. If it simply doesn’t show, will any of my Extensions be enough to make up the difference? The Call-to-Action is often a critical component of getting the click. It tells the user how you want them to do business with you; how you want them to give you money. It creates an additional motivation to do business with you, assuming the users wants to do business with you that way.

Also, while I think brevity is good, even the classic five minute elevator speech depends on the last minute of that speech. Now, you’ll have to get your message across in fewer words. Plus, you’ll still have to find the way to stand out from the crowd.

Another possible problem is that Google will decide whether to show Description Line 1 and 2 and an Extension, Description Line 1 and an Extension, or just Description Line 1. While each of these scenarios will also have the headline and Display URL, one of those scenarios leaves more ad space on the page. I feel confident that some queries will return three ads at the top of the mobile SERPs.

Why This Might Be a Good Thing

The good thing about this change is that many of the mobile ads are cut off at the end with a ‘…’. I have personally found that this occurs if the Description Line 1 and 2 combine to be greater than 60 characters. The irony of this is that often times the CTA is portion of the ad that is sacrificed. A carefully written Extension might be able to offset this problem anyways.

The Solution

Making sure everything is taken care of does not require rewriting every ad in your account. It does require having ads using the mobile device preference. If you don’t have those already in all ad groups, now is the time to start.

Remember the basic rules to writing these. If you have ads with that option in an ad group, but you have no other ads, the ads with the mobile device preference will run on all devices. The opposite is true. If you only have ads lacking the mobile device preference in an ad group, those ads will run on all device. The only time situation in which the mobile device preference is used by Google is if the ad group has both types of ads.

To make certain your mobile ads are served with the best chance to succeed, you’ll have to make your ads with the mobile device preference are created differently. You’ll need to make certain that Description Line 1 is a complete sentence with a CTA in it. Then, you’ll need to make sure the ad still looks good when accompanied by Description Line 2. The key part here is that you won’t know whether AdWords will or won’t show the new format.

The last part you’ll need to handle is making sure every extension looks good. Considering Google announced the Call Out Extensions were being released out of Beta seven days before this announcement, I doubt the timing is any coincidence. Call Out Extensions, at 25 characters, are essentially a “sitelink without a link”. You must have at least two of them in order for them to run at all. There is no guarantee of which Extension(s) will show, but this is likely to be powerful one.

Google AdWords has also put together a checklist to use:


The prepared advertisers should get a big benefit out of this, as they will be ahead of everyone else. Now that you’ve read this, you should have no problem being prepared.

Now, go make some money!

By Kevin Adams

Kevin Adams has been doing PPC since 2004. He has managed many accounts from local service companies to large mortgage companies. His primary proficiencies are Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and Bing Ads. He continually stays up-to-date on the latest tricks, tools and trends provided by the search engines. If there is one thing that Kevin excels at most is making his clients money with Pay-per-Click advertising.