Targeting Settings on Gmail Inbox Ads

Casey BartoAs Elizabeth mentioned on Monday, the new Gmail inbox now includes ads that appear in your mail stream. To get even more insight into these ads, I sat down with David Landers from the Knotice Deliverability Assurance Team.
In addition to Elizabeth’s observations, David offered these views:
  • The ads do not persist if you navigate away from Gmail in your browser and return later. If an ad is displayed and you do not click on it and leave the site, it does not appear when you return.
  • The ads are definitely being prioritized, meaning that they are appearing at the top of the list in the “Promotions” window. They are clearly advertisements although designed to appear as emails. (There has been much debate as to whether these ads within the email stream are considered spam or not.)
  • The ads seem to be targeted to users who have “interested-based advertising” enabled via their Google Ads settings for Gmail; if the user is not enrolled in this, the ads appear to be more generic.

To see how his experience would be changed, David decided to opt out of the interest-based advertising, and these are the ads he received:


Since Google sends you ads “based on your interests” when you’re opted in, David wanted to see what “interests” Google had him placed under based on his activity. This is what he found:


“These interests themselves are a bit strange because I don’t know how I had ‘activity on Google products’ relating to some or most of these, but particularly ones like ‘Bicycles & Accessories’ and ‘Make-Up & Cosmetics,’” he said.

Perhaps this type of fail is intended to prompt people to opt-in to categories that actually do interest them. Or maybe Google has some work to do before it gets things right.

What do you think of the new ad format? Do you find it intrusive? And are you more likely to opt out of interest-based advertising now?

If you want to opt out of Gmail’s inbox ads, here’s how.

%d bloggers like this: