Adwords Express Changing Ad Titles Depending on Search

Adwords Express has generally improved since its initial nationwide rollout in January of 2011 and its name change in July of last year. It was initially dogged with poor targeting and huge spikes in monthly cost per click that often made their use untenable. I have continued to test it in a range of local situations and for some low dollar value campaigns in some markets it has worked very well. My relationship with Express has moved from wildly bipolar to only mildly bipolar.

One of the annoying aspects is the lack of control. For example Google adds review stars to your express ad and takes viewers directly to your Places page whether you want them to go there or not. The flip side of that is that they automatically provide click to call for your ads in a mobile environment. Another big downside is the inability to direct a user to a specific landing page. But it turns out to be a quick and relatively inexpensive local keyword research tool where it is sometimes hard to get a great list otherwise.

One of the big improvements has been the ability to create your own Ad Headline. Initially the product would ONLY show the business name in that field. The ability to correctly title your ad has improved targeting and increased the value of the ad for specific niches. But… and this is a big BUT …. along with that improvement Google is now apparently changing the ad title ON THE FLY. Not only are they changing the title to the business name they are shortening the business name to fit in the allowed 25 characters!

And Google does so without warning you that this might occur. As far as I can tell this behavior is NOT documented.

The assumption that Google knows best might be backed by reams of data, that doesn’t mean that I should not be given the option to either allow or disallow this behavior. Nor does it mean that Google should make these changes without asking my permission. Simplicity without explanation becomes duplicity in the eyes of the SMB.

Here is an ad that I recently found showing in the search results. Note the Ad Headline:


Here is the content that was created in the Places Dashboard:


Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Adwords Express Changing Ad Titles Depending on Search by

7 thoughts on “Adwords Express Changing Ad Titles Depending on Search”

  1. People should be very wary of Adwords Express. In ever account I have entered that had previously or currently used Express I saw deplorable CTR that were low enough for Google to almost de-list the keywords due to low quality scores. A simple Search Query report showed that 80+ % of the, traffic in some cases, There is no reason why someone doesn’t have the time to quickly, albeit efficiently, setup a true Adwords program. Having an Express campaign within your login can mean that when you finally do have an Adwords campaign that the low quality scores associated with the Express keywords transfer over to the new campaign as well. This isn’t insurmountable and can be dealt with…however it takes a bit of time to reset those scores to acceptable levels. I am almost floored that the above ad is an Express ad. I just have never seen one so well put together.

    1. @Jozef

      Adwords express is not for everyone and generally I would agree with you but in this case, due to her very low budget she chose Adwords Express. We are seeing CTR of 1.04% with a cpc of $1.25 and getting engaged traffic. Not great but not terrible either.

  2. m new to GP, can any 1 tell me Do you need to have your Google Places Page verified in order to launch an Adwords Express Campaign?

  3. Thats very interesting Mike. The fact that Google changes your Ad Title without your approval is crazy. I’m sure it’s covered in their T’s & C’s but in most industries that would be a huge liability issue.

    I tend to stay with Adwords so I can manually select each keyword phrase. I do like the added rich snippets with Adwords Express and that is probably why you are getting a better click through rate and engagement with the user.

  4. Interesting. Thats a huge liability in my opinion. It’s effectively changing your ad copy without your approval or without giving notice and still charging you under the guidelines of the original ad. There is nothing about that that doesn’t scream lawsuit.

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