Over the course of the past month or two, there have been several reports that Google is allowing AdWords ads to have extended character limits, above what is allowed in the guidelines. I reported this at the Search Engine Roundtable earlier this month, where Google told me “We haven’t changed our AdWords policy regarding the number of characters allowed in the title line.” Google also told me, they would look into the issue and resolve the bug. Then Kerstin Baker-Ash claimed a Google account manager in London said that this is something Google has been “testing” for the past month. So I had to ask Google what is going on, because this indeed looked like some type of test.
Google got back to me over the weekend with a long explanation. In short, in some cases, when using the keyword insertion feature, Google may allow more than 25 characters. A Google spokesperson told me:
As you know, when a keyword-insertion ad appears on a search result page, the AdWords system inserts the keyword that triggered the ad into the ad text. If the keyword is too long, and would cause the ad text to exceed our character limits, the ad’s default text is used instead.
In rare cases, the system may insert a keyword that causes the ad to exceed the character limit. This happens because there may be some cases in which more characters fit based on the amount of space they occupy. Similarly, if an ad text contains any wide characters, such as certain capital letters and punctuation marks, fewer characters may fit on the line.
There’s no guaranteed way to exceed the character limit, so we don’t recommend that advertisers tailor their ad text to attempt this. It would likely make keyword insertion less effective, since the AdWords system will almost always use the default text in place of a too-long keyword.
As you can see, it is very possible to exceed the limit set in the guidelines, but there is no guarantee that it will look right and work every time.