Blog/ Digital strategy

Update: Twitter, Google new character limits adapt to user habits

Update: Twitter, Google new character limits adapt to user habits

Most of us have gotten used to employing hacks to stay under seemingly arbitrary character limits imposed on us, like spelling “you” as “u” and eliding vowels in long words with lots of consonants. Now, it might be time to unlearn those habits, thanks to a few major changes by members of the internet elite: Google AdWords and Twitter.


This week, Twitter announced that it’s finally expanding its 140 character limit…kind of. Tagging users will no longer count towards your character count. And media attachments, like videos or GIFs, will no longer reduce your character limit. This frees up 22 characters when tweeting with media, so you have more room to add all the emojis your heart desires.

In addition to expanding the character limit (kind of), Twitter is also allowing users to retweet and quote tweet their own tweets, making it easier for users to reach a wider audience and improve their visibility. The convention of using .@ is also getting the axe, meaning that all users can see tweets beginning with @, not only the ones who follow both the tweeter and tweetee.

Twitter’s changes, which will roll out over the next few months, are all part of the company’s effort to expand its utility and make the platform more user friendly, which became a necessity after the decade-old company suffered a loss of users and revenue over the past year. But are these tweaks enough to make Twitter more appealing to a broader audience?

Our social media lead, Steve Ziemba, doesn’t think the expanded character limit will lead to a flood of new users, but that it is a positive sign that Twitter is willing to evolve. Twitter’s bigger problem, he says, is spam—the platform has been a spammer’s playground for the past several years, and it is unclear how Twitter plans to address the issue. Another hurdle the company faces is stagnant advertising revenue growth. “As Twitter’s ad sales continue to slow, it will be interesting to see if the update will entice new advertisers to sign up or bring the old ones back,” Steve says.   

Google AdWords

Google AdWords has also unveiled plans to adapt to “a mobile-first world.” Later this year, search ads on Google will have expanded text limits that are optimized for popular screen sizes. A few partners are already active in a beta test, including Envisionit. This is the first real change to character limit for paid search ads since AdWords was launched nearly 16 years ago.

This chart from Google demonstrates the exact changes and how they differ from the ads that Google currently serves:

google-expanded-text-ads (1)

Google believes that by taking up more real estate, mobile click-thru rates will improve for search ads, something that they reportedly observed during beta testing. Although Envisionit is taking part in this beta test, it is too early for us to report any impact of the expanded text ads on CTR just yet. These findings comes alongside Google’s announcement about integrating local ads for businesses into Google Maps, allowing users to more easily explore the geography around them in what promises to be another exciting avenue for advertisers.

This isn’t the only news Google AdWords has served us in the past year. In February, Google said it would be removing right rail paid search ads from its search results. It wouldn’t be surprising if more changes came from the search engine later in the year.

We tried out the Google’s new search ads for ourselves. Check out our ads below:

Current ad format:

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.53.57 PM (1)

New ad format:

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 12.50.30 PM (1)

How do you feel about the updates? Let us know!