Google Adwords

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.

These aren’t the droids you were looking for?

Keywords matching has changed on a lot since the days when “broad”, “phrase” and “exact” meant what most people thought  they did. They have been subject to quite a bit of redefinition. Perhaps it is time they got new names? Especially now that turning off the “near match” characteristics are no longer at our discretion (as of Sept 2014).

Near match, oh that must mean close right? Not necessarily.. there is “machine close” and “human close”. If you were advertising for Glass you probably wouldn’t expect to see your Ads show for Class. Conceptually a very different meaning, but only 1 letter away if it is a misspelling.. so your Ad will likely show for both if it’s Ad Rank is sufficient and you hadn’t anticipated it by blocking -class as a negative.

Close keyword variations

We’ll show your ads for close variations of your phrase and exact match keywords to maximise your potential to show your ads on relevant searches. Close variations include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations and accents.

OK. What about words that are just synonyms? Well it isn’t specifically mentioned, but we have observed these in the past. Particularly across branded goods, e.g car brands. A search for a particular make/model may show the make/model of another brand because they are same type of product. ie both 4WD vehicles. Incidentally I have seen “Ford Sale” expand to the generic “For Sale”(expansion on misspelling)  and if that is a phrase match your “Ford Sale” ad may be showing for furniture for sale !

Word Stemming is an issue when the stemming leads to a different meaning. e.g Service and Servicing. While many businesses may offer a “service”, it does not including “servicing”

Plural can introduce issues in a similar way. A search for “custom service” is likely different intent from a search for “customs service”

Abbreviations/Acronyms + Mispellings = EVIL . This can be nasty, if you have a common Three Letter Acronym in your industry, it is likely matching for every other variation of those letters and anything that is only 1 letter off.  ABC, CBA, CAB. POST, POTS,SPOT

Expect to spend a lot more time monitoring search term matching reports and adding negatives. For new accounts this may mean 7+ days before there is enough data before the report will show these unexpected matches. Experience plays a big part in knowing what might be an issue, but we can never fully know how aggressive some matching will be until it happens.

The chart below serves as an introduction to the different match types, ordered from broad to narrow.

Match Type Special symbol Example keyword Ads may show on searches that Example searches:
Broad match none women’s hats include misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations buy ladies hats
Broad match modifier +keyword +women’s +hats contain the modified term (or close variations, but not synonyms), in any order hats for women
Phrase match keyword women’s hats are a phrase, and close variations of that phrase buy women’s hats
Exact Match [keyword] [women’s hats] are an exact term and close variations of that exact term women’s hats
Negative Match keyword women are searches without the term baseball hats

Happy negative hunting..

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.