Google Ads Email layout

What Are Gmail Ads & Why Should You Use Them?

What are Gmail ads?

Gmail ads provide a way for AdWords advertisers to connect to Gmail users, through email style adverts with an impact. They’re shown in the inbox of personal Gmail accounts and are labelled as ‘ads’.  

When deciding whether or not to show your ad, Google will use the last 300 emails a person has received and if the data in these emails hits your targeting criteria, your ad is eligible to show. It’s still an auction with Gmail ads though, so your overall account health, CPCs and budget will impact how often your ad is shown.

Although Gmail ads are created and managed through the Adwords interface, they’re designed for Gmail. By using a large creative canvas, they can capture the attention of potential customers through the use of imagery and text.

What’s the benefit of using Gmail ads?

Gmail ads have a reach of over one billion Gmail users globally each month and give you the potential to show your ads to people who are already interested in your service, so you’re effectively targeting warmer leads.

From a measurement point of view you can track reach, open rate, click through rate, email saves and forwards through AdWords, so you have a large amount of insightful data.  It’s also suggested to use custom URLs with gmail ads so that you can track the data a few levels deeper with Google Analytics (particularly for Multi-Product Promotion Ads).

Gmail ads look like an email and give you targeting options which you can’t achieve easily with Search or Display ads.

What do Gmail ads look like?

When collapsed and sitting in your inbox, a Gmail ad takes the form of an advertiser’s name, subject, description and logo.

Gmail Ad Icons


As with text ads in AdWords, you do have character limits to adhere to:

  • Advertiser Name – 15 characters
  • Subject – 25 characters
  • Description – 100 characters

There are a number of variations for the ad creative itself, but we’ve found that the single image or catalog creative ads have performed the best for our clients allowing the lowest CPC (9p on average!). This is all thanks to the ability you have to brand these more inclusively. Let’s look into each ad style a little deeper for their benefits:
Gmail Email Ads AdWords

Single Image Gmail Ads

A personal favourite, single image ads require one image (size 650 PX x [300 PX to 1000 PX]).  The benefit of this Gmail ads style is that you can create one single image with a promotion, focusing on promoting your brand, rather than sending the user to specific products (which they may bounce from).  For our clients, we’ve created single image ads with promo codes or client and press testimonials, both of which are seeing strong results.

Single Product Promotion Gmail Ads

This ad style is perfect if you have a ‘deal of the day’ or a star product which you want to promote.  Here’s an example: you have a great deal on your MOT service and want to promote it to people who purchase from other garages – single product promotion ads would work perfectly for this. Even better, you have the option of using a static image (650 PX x [50 PX to 200 PX]) or video from YouTube with this ad style.

Unlike single image ads, the single product ads have a clear call to action button next to the product image or video and the ability to add up to 1024 characters of content.

Gmail AdWords Email Ads


Multi-Product Promotion Gmail Ads

These ads build on the single product image style ad to allow you to create a product grid of up to six items (180 PX x 180 PX), plus a header image (630 PX x [50 PX to 200 PX]).  Multi-Product Promotion ads are ideal if you’re looking to promote a range, services or new collection. Say for instance you’re going to be targeting iPhone owners with your Gmail ads; showing the range of accessories from your stock would be a perfect opportunity to use these ads.

Each grid item has its own call to action and content space, so you can easily monitor which pages are the most popular and will aid your overall advertising strategy.

Catalog Creative Gmail Ads

Catalog Creative ads give you the ability to build up more of a newsletter feel to your ad, with a main promotions area and three secondary areas.  This allows you to mix up the areas you’re sending users to and incorporate other areas of your site such as the blog into your ad.

A great example of this is a new season range of clothing. The top promotion section of the ad (650 PX x 300 PX) could be used to promote the season, with a clear call to action and key content points about the season.  Then for your three additional sections (650 PX x 330 PX) you could have one standout item going to the product page, one blog about styling this season’s range and the third with a video (from Youtube) profiling key pieces from the range.

It’s important to consider the goal of your Gmail ads before choosing the ad creative style and to create more than one variation of each ad, allowing you to A/B test and see which approach your audience engages the best with.

How can you target with Gmail ads?

As with Display advertising, Gmail ads can be targeted based on Interests, Remarketing, Keywords, Topics and Demographics.  You don’t use Placements with Gmail ads however, as is the Placement added to allow your ads to appear in Gmail in the first place.

From campaigns we’ve ran for our clients, we’ve found that the following two strategies work the best and provide the highest interaction: retargeting and competitor targeting.


Retargeting with Gmail ads

Retargeting is fantastic for pulling back users who failed to convert on your site and with Gmail ads you can make your retargeting efforts even more linear.  For example, with Basket Abandonment retarget using a discount code or free delivery in your gmail ad can help to pull the user back.

For a user who visited a particular category page and didn’t convert, you could enlist the multi-product promotion Gmail ad and serve them the top products from the range.  You could even send them to a guide or download to then be able to nurture the lead further if it’s a longer buying cycle.

By creating linear retargeting lists through Google Analytics, you’ll enable more retargeting options.

 Competitor with Gmail ads

Competitor targeting isn’t a tactic which we’re usually a fan of as, if a user is searching for a particular company, that’s where their interest lies and by serving your ad, it can negatively impact the sentiment a user has to your brand.  With Gmail ads you don’t need to worry about this, as the user isn’t pro-actively searching for the company.  Simply enter your competitor’s domains as keywords, then if the user receives an email from them in their past 300 emails, your ad is eligible to show.  

If a user has signed up to the newsletter of your competitor, then they’re a warmer lead as you know they’re likely to be interested in your product too.  Therefore you want to ensure that your subject line and description give your proposition and show the user why they should consider your service too – discount codes and free trials are the easiest things to offer.

Many high street retailers send newsletters every day, so think big with your targeting and don’t be afraid to hit the big brands; you’re not directly auctioning against them, so the size of their budget compared to yours makes no odds!

There’s a plethora of ways in which you can use Gmail ads as part of your strategy and even though they’ve been around for quite some time, they’re still massively underused.  Get ahead of your competition and give them a go.

If you’d like more information about Gmail ads, their set up or adding them to your paid search strategy then please contact the team today.

Share your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.