Google has introduced new ads to Gmail that can be best
described as "sponsored emails." Aside from the fact that the ads
are marked as such and colored differently from regular Gmail
messages (similar to how Google distinguishes some search ads), the
aesthetic of these ads -- which only appear in the "promotions" tab
-- differ little from standard emails and function similarly,
allowing users to store them for later or forward to others.
In other words, those text ads that seemed to know what you're
writing and reading have turned into email that sits atop of all
others under the "promotions" tab.
The new inbox ads could be considered Gmail's version of
Facebook's "Sponsored Stories" or Twitter's "Promoted Tweets." One might even
dub them "native" -- though others have described them as "spammy,"
The ads --
spotted a month ago -- replace the ones that were pegged atop the Gmail inbox under the old design, said
a Google spokesperson. If users have disabled the promotions tab (a
way to turn off the new ads), then the ad running atop the regular
inbox, now dubbed "primary," will return.
A Google spokesperson said the ads aren't exactly the same as
emails because they don't take up inbox storage and aren't deleted
like messages. For the most part, the new ads act like normal inbox
ads. When people click the ads, they will either be directed to an
advertiser's landing page or the ad will expand within Gmail and
display some sort of visual graphic like what might otherwise run
in a marketer's email. The latter functionality has been around for
at least a year through the regular Gmail ad types, the
However, unlike other Gmail ads people can store these new ads
in the inbox's "starred" folder or forward them to others by
creating a new email message that embeds the ad.
The new ad placements are being offered in a limited sign-up
that advertisers can request to join through their Google account
While Google has added new types of ads in Gmail, the company
that derived 86% of its $14.1 billion in second-quarter revenue
from advertising has actually reduced the overall number of ads
displayed in users' inboxes. The spokesperson said that Gmail users
are seeing fewer ads overall because Google raised the quality
threshold for Gmail ads in launching the new inbox, one way of
saying the old ads weren't working very well.
Given the reaction to Google's first iteration of Gmail ads,
which caused a privacy frenzy due to the fact they are targeted
with information mined from email, response to the new Gmail ads
has been relatively muted.
Microsoft may count the reduction news as a win for its
"Scroogled" campaign that
criticized Google for running ads targeted according to users'
emails (a practice Microsoft ad partner Yahoo has also adopted).
However the Google spokesperson said the changes are not in
response to Microsoft's criticisms.