While much has been written about the new Gmail ads that look a lot like regular emails in the Promotions tab, did you know they are actually an extension of an ongoing beta called Gmail Sponsored Promotions? The ads shown above, below and in the box to the right of nearly every email message on desktops are the predecessors of those email-like ads that rolled out with the new tabbed inbox.
Users may confuse the three ads for AdSense ads that also appear in Gmail, but they are in fact part of Google’s Gmail Sponsored Promotions beta. Google often, but not always, adds the small price tag icon alongside the top and bottom Gmail Sponsored Promotions ads in an effort to differentiate them from AdSense ads.
All three of the Gmail Sponsored Promotions ads that display in email messages are always for a single advertiser. The top and bottom Sponsored Promotions ads are identical, while the square ad on the right includes the advertiser’s logo or other thumbnail image.
Below the ad on the right is a “More Promotions” link that leads to a list of other advertisers participating in the Gmail Sponsored Promotions beta. The ads below that “More Promotions” link on the right rail are Google AdSense ads.
AdSense text ads take the user directly to a landing page while all Gmail Sponsored ads, including those in the Promotions tab, open like an email message. Here’s a look at a Gmail Sponsored Promotions page for Vistaprint:
Gmail Sponsored Promotions ads are priced on a cost-per-click basis. Advertisers are only charged the first time an ad is clicked and aren’t charged for actions taken from the promotional message. The program has been running in limited beta for some time now; interested advertisers can contact their Google reps to request inclusion.
Google announced last week that the native-style ads in the Promotions tab are rolling out on the latest Gmail app for Android devices. For now, this is essentially the only occurrence of Gmail ads on mobile devices. With the surge in email consumption on mobile, we should expect Google will continue to expand these ad formats on mobile.