Gmail Promotions Tab Gets Visual Punch: Google Testing Image-Driven Grid View

Gmail Image Grid Promotions Tab Test

Source: Google

It’s like Pinterest for your inbox. Today, the Visual Web is coming to email with Google’s latest test of a grid view in the Gmail Promotions tab. The grid presents marketing emails in a “pin-like,” image-driven fashion by surfacing images within emails and displaying them right in the user’s inbox.

The images — now cached and delivered from its own servers – thanks to Google’s move at the end of last year — are displayed along with brand logos and names and the traditional email subject lines. The emphasis in the grid view, though, is on the image first, offer second.

Currently, email marketers put everything they’ve got into crafting and testing subject lines that will get users to notice and click on their emails. If this new visual format takes hold, the images marketers choose to showcase in the grid will be as important, if not more so, as the offer itself in determining Gmail open rates.

There was much consternation in the email marketing world when Google introduced the tabbed inbox that corrals marketing emails in the Promotions tab (for those users who enable the tabbed view). Would users even pay attention to this new tab, or would they ignore it like a pile of junk mail?

Four months after the tabs debuted, email data provider Return Path published a study of 3 million Gmail users’ inboxes showing that read rates for commercial emails — 90 percent of which went to the Promotions tab — had held fairly steady.

Return Path also advised that marketers stop sending so called “Move Me” emails requesting that users to move their messages to the Primary tab. If this grid test performs well, we could start seeing “Move Me Back” emails.

It’s this tabbed functionality that now allows Google to experiment with new ways of presenting commercial emails to users.

The Promotions tab also gives Google new ways to present ads in Gmail. You can see in the grid example above that the sponsored promotion ads — this one for Arbnb — that the same treatment of yellow shading and “ad” slug carries through to the grid view.  However, upper left positioning in the grid is much more valuable real estate than the top spot in the traditional list view.

Gmail users can sign up to participate in the test starting today. Participants will be able to toggle between the traditional list view and grid view within the Promotions tab. The test is limited to desktops at this point.

Related Topics: Channel: Email Marketing | Email Marketing | Google | Google: Gmail | Top News


About The Author: writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting. Beyond Search Engine Land, Ginny provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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  • Jerry Nordstrom

    @Ginny – I know you have little control over this, however I have to say the Auto start video with pumping music advertisement is an instant kill the page reaction for me. My recommendation for ML is to kill rich media video ads and stick with traditional display and image ads on lengthy article posts. At minimum, user controls interactions, do not allow auto anything! – Is that not what ML and SEL writes about so frequently? Cheers -

  • paco cornholio

    The pitch to users: Scan more information quickly, to make sense of pending offers.

    The pitch to marketers: Increase your chances of reaching users, who will be more likely to open a single promo page than to open packs of individual messages. Also, Google will be able to increase relevance by presenting offers within context of user’s most recent actions (searches, reading, messaging).

    The value to Google: Opens up another pay-to-play option, where marketers can be charged for better exposure Iabove the fold, coincident with observed user needs, separated from competing offers) to users.

    The question to settle: If all of these offers are information, to whom does this information rightly belong? And, if it belongs to users, how does Google justify selling the presentation rights back to the marketers.

  • Jose Argudo

    This looks very interesting, this could possibly increase the ROI on some email campaigns, but I wonder what would be shown in those text only emails, A default image? Are we going to need to include an imagen even on text emails? Lets see :)

  • Steven Boehle

    You ask, why would Google do this? “The Promotions tab also gives Google new ways to present ads in Gmail.”

  • Chris Lee Vella

    This seems like a great idea! Would love to get my Promotions tab like this.


    Testing the test good or so good or—-

  • beebow

    @Nordstrom:disqus – Hey there, I’m the community editor for SEL & ML. We’re a bit stumped about your comment, as we don’t have any multimedia ads / video overlays running on either site. Would you be able to confirm with a screenshot / screencast so we can figure out what’s up and how to fix? Thanks :) -Lauren

  • Domenico Sacchi

    Thank you for sharing this article. I’ve tested the gmail sponsored promotions with interesting results in Italy. Obviuosly I have not enough data to compare CTR with other campaign.

    I’ve realized also an example of package to upload with a simple guide here

    Hope it can be useful for someone.


  • Stacie Walker

    I’m looking forward to this!

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