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Google uses Gmail's promotions inbox to promote a new kind of ad

Google uses Gmail's promotions inbox to promote a new kind of ad

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Google's new Gmail tries to declutter your inbox by dividing it into distinct parts: one inbox for social media updates, one for promotions, one for message boards, one for bills and receipts, and one primary inbox for everything else. Since the new Gmail's introduction in May, though, users have been noticing another change to the way their inbox works: ads have started appearing in their Promotions inbox that look like email. We spoke to Google about them.


There are actually two new kinds of ads, according to Google: ones that link out, and ones that will actually expand in your inbox when you click on them.

While the new ads could definitely be deemed intrusive, much like Facebook's Sponsored Stories or Twitter's Promoted Tweets, Google argues that they actually make a lot more sense. Now, instead of sponsored links appearing in a ticker at the top of your inbox, they only appear inside emails and at this new Promotions tab. If you're looking for promotions, you'd expect to find ads there, the company told us. Google also says there's a new bar for how relevant the ads have to be before the company will display them to you at all, to the point where you might not see any ads in your Promotions tab at all.

Email advertisers now have to compete with Google

Google was very clear that while the new ads look like email, they're not actually emails, and advertising partners don't have any more access to your email address or other personal information than they did before. They merely get prime real estate compared to every other advertiser who tries to email you. The individual ads are definitely more prominent and potentially more annoying in the middle of your inbox, but that assumes you're using the Promotions tab at all. You can also tap the X button on an ad in the Promotions tab to make that ad spot disappear — until the next time you reload the website, anyhow.

In short, if you don't ever plan to look at your Promotions inbox for deals, you might be able to get away with fewer ads than ever before. But if you do, expect to see Google sponsored offers take up that prime real estate until you dismiss them, one by one.