Describing anything as a “Game Changer” is a bold statement, I know. But, I believe Gmail is changing the game of paid media advertising, here’s how.

As a search engine marketer, I’m use to brands approaching me to increase their lead volume through paid media. I love this because it’s in some ways job security, right? I also hate get disappointed when digital advertising is viewed solely as search and banner display ads. That’s because the strategy has evolved, and it’s evolved a lot. Google is continually innovating new ways for advertisers to reach their target audience in a variety of ways, not just one or two. These enhancements are a welcome change from advertisers… To put it simply, Google has made it possible to reach your target audience in a location they visit everyday - their email inbox!

Your Digital Ads Must Evolve

Today’s advertising market is competitive, I remind you of this and encourage you to use a variety of media types for your digital campaigns; strengthen your marketing strategies with a well-rounded balance paid advertising combination. What’s going to be a great addition, you ask? Easy, Gmail Sponsored Promotions – ads on Google’s free email service. Trust me, you’ll be glad you added this to your paid media mix.

So, what are Gmail Ads?

Gmail Ads look and feel like an email while a user is in their Gmail account, but it’s not – it’s an advertisement! There are usually two sitting above a user’s emails on the promotional tab in Gmail. These are clearly marked “Ad,” but still flow with the Gmail settings so they are not disruptive. Gmail Ads are a fresh way to get in front of new customers, and current customers. Here is an example below from my personal account:


How Gmail Ads Are Different

Although Gmail Ads are set-up with cost-per-click like any other form of PPC advertisement, these particular ads differ from your typical PPC media. For starters, these ads can only be shown to Gmail users, no users on other email platforms because these ads can only show up in Gmail. Don’t worry too much about missing your audience, Gmail is one of the most popular email services worldwide, so there is plenty of opportunity to target the right audiences for any company or industry.

One of my favorite features of Gmail Ads are the many unique targeting options compared to other PPC ads, for example, you can target users opening emails from your competitors. With their variety of targeting options between your current customer lists with addresses to look-a-like audiences to competitors, it gives advertisers the chance to do a lot of testing and optimize for growth. This particular Gmail Sponsored Promotion below appears for me because I not only receive emails from their competitors, but often open emails from their competitors. Because I was the right audience for this ad, it grabbed my attention, and piqued my interest so I opened it.


 How Gmail Ads Enhance Your Email Strategies

Finally, Gmail Ads not only support PPC but email strategies as well, it sort of bridges the two together. Gmail Ads often are used as a way to get new users to register for your emails, but can also be used as another opportunity to get in front of current customer lists with addresses. Below is a great example from my personal account; I already receive Sephora emails, shop in-store and on their site often, even have a rewards membership with them so of course they want to find a way for me to become even more loyal to them with this great offer. This offer would make shopping much more convenient for me to shop at Sephora, again, making me the perfect target audience for this Gmail Sponsored Promotion.


We recently had a retail client running a month long sales offer this past spring, among their goals for this promotion was to increase email registrations. In order to deliver strong performances for them, we had a healthy mix of paid media running; in that paid media mix we included Gmail Sponsored Promotions. We ran two separate Gmail campaigns during this month long offer:

  • Their current customer list for us to reach out to already loyal customers in a new way
  • Look-a-like audience Google created which mimics the current customer list for us to get in front of possible new customers


The Gmail Ads for this promotion brought in nearly an extra 1,000 conversions, accounting for 15% of the total conversions from all Google paid media. Of those Gmail Ads’ conversions, 73% of them were new customers – new email registrations! Not only did these campaigns bring in conversions, but out of all the other Google paid ads we ran, the Gmail campaigns converted at the lowest costs. Overall, most of the paid media campaigns we ran for this offer were successful, but we – and the client – were pleased to see the outcome of testing out Gmail Sponsored Promotions for this month-long offer.

I see Gmail Sponsored Promotions as the future opportunity for more brands. And yes, that’s why I’m blogging about it, because I believe it’s a game changer. If you are concerned about where your accounts are standing or if you have the right combinations of paid media running for your company, contact us for a Paid Media Audit, we’re happy to help you reach your target audience.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky