Why aren’t your ad extensions showing?

Why aren’t your ad extensions showing?
Simple answer. “extensions may not show all the time due to space, quality and other constraints”.

Google is under no obligation to show Ad extensions every time your ads show on their search page. They have to balance a lot of space demands on the page. Ads, Maps, Organics and other snippets. Throwing in extra lines of text for every Ad does not make economic sense for them.

They couldn’t squeeze them all in there anyway. The screen real estate is limited on search and with mobile device and tablets screens the space is even less.

You & every other Ad on the page are not paying for the display of the Ad in that screen real estate, rather your are only paying for the click. It is G’s interest to show Ads and extensions that are performing well. They have a higher propensity to get clicked on. And the quality & relevance is what gets a searcher to come back and use Google again.

(If you don’t believe relevancy is important, ask the ghosts of Alta Vista what happened when a competitor search engine provided more relevant results) .

Which is where Quality comes into play…

If showing the extension results in less click-throughs for your Ad then extension will get shown as often. That is a simplification, but it is the nub of the issue for many who’s extensions don’t show.

When Google mandated that phone numbers were no longer allowed in the Ad text, but only in the Ad Call extension (and optionally in location extensions), it was a good thing*.

The Ad performance was decoupled from the (CTR reducing effect of the) phone number and also freed up space in the Ads for more compelling text. The losers in this process were those looking for Free calls by hoping people wouldn’t click on their Ads but just call the number instead.

Other Constraints.

1. Another common one is position. Whilst this varies due to Google’s ongoing layout experiments, in most cases only the top 3-5 positions get additional data such as Ad extensions shown.

2. The Ad extension Sitelinks and Callouts, phone or address information overlap or are duplicated. Only one or two of these is shown. In the case of callouts and sitelinks this is to reduce duplication or “stuffing” of terms. So one of more additional extension elements may not show for a given search. This is recent and the implementation & behaviour may be further refined.

3. Here is a fuller list of reasons and troubleshooting.

Trick to Click Disapprovals – Going haywire.

Getting a stream of disapprovals notices for “Trick to Click” since yesterday 22-Oct-2014.

It seems whatever the new process to detect these is itself flawed. I can only assume that it is an automated AI process of image classification & detection. Because no human would be making such mistakes. So far the funniest one is an ad for a Fiat Hatchback. Not sure how a picture of a car and it’s price qualifies as “trick to click”.

The element that is common so far in all of the disapproved ads is that they have circles or ovals in the image. In the case of the car ad, it has round head lights, wheels and an oval side mirror, if you take your glasses off & squint really hard you might think those are buttons. And this is why I think it is an automated detection algorithm rather than human.


Disapproval Reason


Image trick-to-click: To help make sure that our ads are relevant, useful, and easy to interact with, we don’t allow promotions that are not clearly identifiable as promotions. For example, we don’t allow images in ads that simulate computer functions (like an official system warning) or that could potentially trick people into clicking the ad (like promotions that appear to be a software download button). To run your ad, replace the image with one that does not contain this type of content.

See the policy to learn how to fix your ad:


A few years back when text detection in images started, I had ads getting disapproved on trademark grounds because a vehicle number plate or badge clashed with a trademark term (from a non-related industry) , manuall re-approval requests were required.

Anyway, hopefully this will be fixed soon. We reported it yesterday and provided more examples today.
Nobody likes having valid ads flagged as disapproved.

edit: As of 24-Oct-2014 Issues appears fixed. All reported errors were re-approved, no recurrence of issues.

Sign the Petition – Adwords keyword close variants are NOT for everyone

Imagine you specifically invited someone out to an intimate dinner and their whole family showed up? (And by the way, you are paying for all of them.) Well that is effect of ‘close variants of keywords’.

You get the related word family…

Now you must say “please come to dinner with me”, but do not bring* your mother, father, brother, friend, neighbour.
The *negative list gets quite long. Who would put up with that if we had to do that in the real world?

There are cases where you might want everyone e.g a party, where it saves writing an invite for everyone and you are happy for anyone vaguely related to your friends to turn up.

But there are definitely cases where you want exactly what you asked for. What is wrong here is that Google took away your option to choose. You, as the one paying Google, had the power to decide if this kind of “bring a friend” option is what you want with the exact or phrase you are targeting. Now you don’t. It sucks to be a Google client hey?

Anyway, it is mainly long-term Adwords professionals who are jumping up and down about this, because we know & understand the impact. In the grand scheme of things, we only a small number versus all of the self managed set & forget accounts out there. But would it really hurt to leave this as an advanced option for those few who need it / understand it?

“More clicks” is not the same as “better clicks”. It is “better clicks” that is far harder to achieve. Now we have to spend more time saying what you don’t want vs saying what you do want..

Please sign the petition.

Adwords Scripting grows up and gets keys to MCC

Adwords scripting is super powerful and easy to use.

But it had been hamstrung by limits.

  • The number authorised scripts being somewhere from 15-20 under the old OAuth system.
  • Random timeouts
  • Tediousness of maintaining scripts across multiple accounts.

Many who tried it, walked away in frustration if they had to deal more than a handful of clients. But now scripting looks set to give the Adwords API a run for its money.

Updates to OAuth2 has made the auth limits a thing of the past, timing issues seem to have disappeared for the last few months and now MCC level scripting is here. Finally you can run monitoring and management scripts across accounts.

A top use for this is finding broken links or sites that are down. QS and Budget tools are also very useful at account level help to find “problems” before they become “PROBLEMS”. Shifting the balance to pro-active instead of reactive.

With this additional data, you may run into the data limit in Google spreadsheets a bit quicker, but that is something I am glad to work around for now.

Looking forward to hearing new ways of using these new features at the Google Adwords API this week in Sydney.