This just in from a chat conversation with a Googler at AdWords!
I challenged AdWords customer support about a competitors ad that showed 26 characters in the title of the AdWords ad and was told by a specific Googler with the initials P. A. that "If you use keyword insertion in your ad text, the ad title may show more than 25 characters." He verified this with a supervisor when I stated that I would post this on my blog and at Webmaster World.
This is news to me and I have been managing AdWords for over six years and this use of additional characters is not reflected in any of their training information.
To clarify even further the Googler stated that there is no guarantee that AdWords will show beyond the limit for the title but they may choose to show a keyword with 26 or 27 characters automatically. The he stated, "The keyword insertion issue is just a by product of our automated systems. In no way are we giving some advertisers more ad text characters." Hmm, but they are!
In my case the title I wanted was [26 character phrase] which is 26 characters. Entering a title in the AdWords control panel allowed [only 25 letters] - which makes no sense. I am now setting up dynamic ad groups for keywords that fit these parameters for my clients.
Interesting that the Google rules state 25 characters max or less if you use double byte, but never state that they will show more. You can do a search on Google.com to see the 26 word title for two of my client's competitors using the query [26 character phrase]. You will see two competitors showing the 26 character title.
I just wanted to pass this on to you so that you could leverage this new information for your benefit too.
[edited by: buckworks at 4:27 am (utc) on May 2, 2009]
[edit reason] Removed specifics [/edit]