Google Testing Display Ads In Gmail

Google appears to be testing display ads in Gmail. I discovered the following image ad in my own Gmail account this morning, and Google has since confirmed a test.

Image ads have made their way into paid search on Google.com and various other properties on Google. But this was really jarring for me to encounter. It’s the only such ad I saw (next to an email from a clothing retailer in my inbox) after purposely looking for others.

I’m sure it’s a test to see how users react and what the response rates are. Gmail is formally a part of the “Google Display Network“:

Your text, image, rich media, and video ads can appear across YouTube, Google properties such as Google Finance, Gmail, Google Maps, Blogger, as well as over one million Web, video, gaming, and mobile display partners.

I’m not sure how long this test has been running; it’s the first time I’ve seen it and I use Gmail as my primary email address.

Postscript: A Google spokesperson provided the following comment:

We’re always trying out new ad formats and placements in Gmail, and we  recently started experimenting with image ads on messages with heavy image content.
They also said the ads began running last Friday.

Related posts:

Related Topics: Channel: Display | Google: AdSense | Google: Gmail | Top News

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • http://fjpoblam fjpoblam

    If Google decides to Yahoo-ize its Gmail page, I think I’ll consider hotmail-izing my email.

  • Stacey Clermont

    There subtle ads was the main reason I used Gmail. If they muck it up I’ll probably go somewhere else.

  • http://cougarabogado.blogspot.com Cougar Abogado

    Greg, fjpoblam, and Stacey.

    What do you think about running an ad blocker like ABP or AdBlock?

    I personally loathe being online when I’m in a browser lacking ad block.

  • http://amusicapp.blospot.com dualsub2006

    A threat to change to Hotmail over visual ads? Seriously? Are you new to the internet or have you just never seen Hotmail? You run along to Hotmail and have fun with that.

    It’s time for Google to offer an ad free version of Gmail. They can sell me 80GB of storage for Picasa for $20. What is the average revenue per user per year on Gmail? Offer me an ad free option and I will buy 5 of them. There is a revenue stream apart from ads.

  • http://www.ianrsmith.co.uk Ian R Smith

    I use Better Gmail which removes the ads from Gmail.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/vdimitroff Vladimir Dimitroff

    I wonder how this will work in the Android mobile client for Gmail? I rarely view Gmail in a browser – on the PC I redirect to another POP account and read in client. From the occasional public PC (cafe etc) it’s a minimal annoyance to put up with…

    And I agree with the posts that point out that Google is not a charity and ad-free can be an option – for a price.

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