What Are Gmail Native Ads?

By December 28, 2016Pay Per Click
A master image of gmail native ads you may seen in your inbox

Gmail Native Ads, formerly known as Gmail sponsored promotions, aren’t really new. They’ve been around since 2013 (Beta) and were widely introduced in early 2015. BUT…their appearance and targeting has changed. And therein lies all the value.

These ads appear in a Gmail user’s inbox, above their emails as clickable ads that look like emails. Upon click, this clever design expands into a variety of ad formats, such as the example below:
An example of gmail native ads in my inbox this morningOne thing you’ll notice is that in the lower left hand corner, there’s options for what to do with this ad. It can be saved to a user’s inbox to take action on later, or even forwarded on (like an email) to someone else that might have interest in the offer. Most importantly though, it can give users more information and use strong imagery to compel them to visit your e-commerce or site or landing page. There’s advanced reporting metrics available through the AdWords interface as well!

These ads appear on both mobile and desktop devices. You’ll often see two ad spots for desktop users and one slot for mobile users. It’s important to note…these ads only appear in “free” Gmail accounts. That is, accounts that end in gmail.com. People using gmail for business accounts don’t see these ads. That doesn’t diminish their value though.


Smart digital marketers and digital consultants leverage these Native Ads because of their targeting – which matters even more now that you can utilize a reasonable amount of real estate for ad creative. Targeting methods include customer match (where you upload an existing list of customers that have a Gmail address), location, general topics and even precise keywords that appear in a user’s inbox (this option is broad match only, and targets the last 300 emails in an inbox). Pretty slick. Not as detailed as Facebook’s platform, but still super relevant.

Another key feature is the ability to include emoji’s in the ad copy. Let’s face it, what good is killer creative if people don’t see it? Adding an interesting emoji can entice that initial click, and that’s what everyone is after anyways. The initial interest. Here’s an example of emoji’s that can be leveraged by Google Native Ads:

An example of emoji's used in gmail native ads

Once a user clicks, there’s a variety of creative types that can be used. Single image ad creative, multi-product creative, catalog creative and even custom HTML (which allows the use of embedded forms…if done correctly).

As always, there’s restrictions on what you can and can’t market. No adult sites. No gambling. Also, these ads are restricted from political, religious, funeral, gambling or relationship (dating) keywords and creative. Important to know up front before spending time on set-up and creative.

These ads can be great funnel fillers for top level marketing. They can be used as a remarketing option to capture lost sales or abandoned carts. They’re fantastic for general awareness as well. They can even be used to re-capture visitors that didn’t convert from your programmatic advertising campaign. I mean, if you’re spending on programmatic, you DEFINITELY need to maximize that investment. This is a great way to do just that!

If you’re running Google AdWords campaigns but aren’t using this Gmail Native Ads option, you should consider it. If you have a digital agency partner managing your AdWords, they should already be making this part of their spend. If you like what you read here and want thought leadership like this for your company, please contact us today!

Author Jason Keeler

Jason is a Digital Strategist and Digital Marketing Consultant. He's spent more than a decade working in Ad Agencies on businesses ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies like General Electric and U.S. Bancorp.

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