In 2013, Google quietly offered a new advertising tactic, Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP) in beta. Most marketers remained unaware of it until Wordstream founder Larry Kim included it in his Portland SearchFest presentation, “The Top 10 PPC Marketing Hacks of All Time” in early 2015. Still, Google didn’t actively promote it, waiting instead to gather lessons from those who sought it out for themselves. They wanted time and insight to tweak this new tool. They’ve now made it available to all in an easier format.  

In September 2015, Google moved GSP into the standard AdWords toolbox. Streamlined simplified—and now called Gmail Ads—the “new” tactic has been returning respectable results for search engine marketers who utilize it carefully. Here, we cover the basics of Gmail Ads and the best practices early adopters have been using to earn additional profits for clients.

Gmail Ads 101

New to Gmail Ads? Most are. A quick recap of how they work will increase your odds of higher returns.    

Gmail includes five tabs which users choose to include in their Gmail interface: primary, social, promotions, updates and forums. The Gmail Ad is a unique ad that appears in personal Gmail inboxes under the “promotions” tab only.

For most recipients, the ad contains a banner with a 25-character text headline and 100 characters in the body. You can add a 50×50 pixel logo with company name or other image in the ad. The top two entries in this inbox are Gmail Ads. Note that they are under the promotions tab.  

Any recipients using Gmail’s “Rich Promotions” beta (a far smaller audience) don’t see the small headline ad, but instead see a 580 x 400 preview of an expanded ad. Both recipients click on these images to get to the 600 x 1000 expanded HTML containing images, text, links, a form field, embedded videos and/or click-to-call phone numbers. From there, the goal is to win clicks to the advertiser’s website or take the featured action (phone call, form completion, etc.)  

Where Gmail Ads Fall on the Digital Advertising Spectrum

Understanding where Gmail Ads fit into your marketing mix can help to improve your returns.

In organic search, buyers indicate intent by typing their keyword phrases into the search bar. In PPC, ads pop up related to the user’s search phrase. Gmail Ads, on the other hand, are somewhat separated from buyer intent. The Gmail Ad is delivered to an inbox even if the user never searched for a company’s products or services. Instead, advertisers choose their own audiences by likes, interests and behaviors, much as they do on Facebook or Google Display Network targeting.

Gmail Ads Best Practices

How can you best use Gmail Ads to bring in additional profits? Review these tips to ensure you get the most impressions and return for your investment.

Who Benefits from Gmail Ads Most?

This model of advertising works best for advertisers looking for leads, rather than direct sales. Typically, users respond best to ads offering a free trial or a freemium model. Google Ads has impressed advertisers with its ability to deliver leads from those not ready to make a big commitment. The model also works, albeit not as robustly, for e-commerce. A better goal than immediate sales for e-commerce, however, is to collect email addresses for the goal of more long-term lead nurturing.  

What Kind of Creative Is Most Effective?

Successful creative from Facebook, display ad and even email newsletter efforts has proven to work on Gmail Ads as well. After all, the whole attention-interest-desire-action holds true for all forms of advertising. In these early stages, Gmail Ad costs stand at the lowest prices they ever will be. Testing for the best response for this new platform can be carried out without breaking the budget.

Also, just as with organic search, Gmail Ads can be a moving target. Companies should change up the creative regularly as impressions and clicks begin to drop over time. Much like with Facebook ads, marketers must seek out new audiences, fine tune their segments and search for new markets regularly.

Getting Started with Google Ads

In addition to PPC and Gmail Ads, RelationEdge Digital Agency offers all the elements that digital marketing offers. While brands can purchase the entire basket of tactics from social media to display ads to ebooks and infographics, REDA carefully recommends just the tools that ensure companies stand out in their specific markets. We start with new clients by evaluating position in the market, unique selling proposition (differentiator) and competition. We then recommend tactics that win the most results for the budget. 


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