Google Ads Coming to an Inbox Near You

Elizabeth Huebner Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of experts across the industry (including Knotice’s own Dutch Hollis) that have shared their point of view on the new Gmail Inbox. Now that you’ve likely experienced this shift to the new inbox, we’re going to take a look at another shift – how Ads through Google’s Sponsored Promotion program are being delivered.
The Sponsored Promotion program has evolved over the years. It started as a way for Google to gain revenue through free services provided to its users. It changed in 2011 to further personalize the advertisements based on the interests of those they were serving. Initially, the 2011 change was a big success, but over time the success fizzled and as a result wasn’t fully capitalizing on revenue opportunities for advertisements. As Google’s recent second-quarter earnings suggest, advertising that works on desktop computers doesn’t work as well on mobile devices, which has caused Google to evaluate the advertising strategies and offerings. One example is Google Sponsored Promotions. These sponsored promotions are now prioritized in the inbox as a new native style ad under the Promotions Tab. These placements closely resemble actual e-mails, with the only differentiation being a slightly yellowed background and faint text in the subject line saying “Ad.” The ads can either link to an email, which can be forwarded to others or expand to provide additional detail from the advertiser.

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Some may argue this minimal differentiation between the ad and email is not enough, but Google claims the placement and treatment provides a better experience for those using their email service. One way the enhanced experience is accomplished is by Gmail’s use of “interest-based advertising,” which is a setting that can be controlled by the user. Google is serving fewer number of ads, but has been successful making them be more relevant to the user – thus more likely to be successful for the advertiser. When advertisers are more successful there is a greater likelihood Google will continue to grow their advertising revenue. If the user is not enrolled in “interest-based advertising”, the ads appear to be more generic. At any time the tabbed inbox can be reverted to the previous version and the Ads can be disabled from the inbox. When the ads become disabled, they are then visible to the right or top of the search results again.

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The program is still in limited beta and it is too soon to know the results. But we expect various ad based services will continue to look for ways to make ads more relevant and better integrated with users daily engagements, be it something like the new Google Ad placement or Facebook’s Sponsored Stories.

Stay tuned for more insights on Gmails sponsored ads in future posts.

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