Gmail Ads

Get a better insight in how Gmail ads work

As you may have guessed, we love email marketing at RAAK. And why shouldn’t we? After all, email has proven to be the most effective channel to reach your target audience. Admit it: we constantly check our mailbox — all day long, at work, at home and on the road. Every peek inside the inbox is a chance to bring that sweet promotion or important update to the attention of your subscriber. But what about reaching all those not subscribed to your newsletter? No worries: Gmail ads can help you to get into a person’s inbox, even if they aren’t on your email list.

We all want to grow our subscriber’s database, so we can reach as many inboxes as possible with the right message. But what if your contact list just isn’t that big? You’re missing out on so many potential customers who would be interested in reading your message. Luckily, Gmail ads provides the answer, without having to invest in an email list.

Are Gmail ads really ads – or just emails?

Actually, they’re a mix of both. They are targeted ads inside a user’s inbox, right underneath the promotions tab. Just like any other ad on Google, they are identified by a discrete ‘Ad’ tag. But apart from that, they are displayed at the top of the page, just like a regular email. As a user you see a sender name (or brand that owns the promotion), a subject line and preview text.


When you click a Google ad, it may expand into an email-sized ad with videos and images. It can also link directly to a landing page. The user can then interact with the expanded ad, depending on the content and layout configured by the advertiser. They can play a video, fill in forms or click through to other pages. There is also a possibility to save the ad (by clicking on the star icon) or forward the message to a friend.

To give users the best possible experience, Google ads are automatically optimised to look great on mobile devices or desktops. Users can even select mobile-only options like click-to-call or a direct link to the app store to get your app.

Okay, but how do people get to see my ad?

As with any other campaign, the success depends on handpicking your audience. Here are parameters to help you select the right contacts.

  • Affinity: these are people who are potential customers because they share the interest for what you do or offer. For example, if you’re promoting bicycles, you could select topics like ‘fitness’ or ‘sporting goods’.
  • Custom intent: With this audience, you target people who are actively searching a related product or service. You can apply keywords or specific URL’s.
  • Customer match: This is based on what you have in your own client database. Do you have information about your customer, but not his explicit opt-in for your newsletter? You can then use this audience to target that contact with an interesting offer.
  • Demographics: Target people who share a specific demographic, like age or gender.
  • Remarketing: You can also target people who've already engaged with your company's products and services.

Don’t know exactly where to start with your audience? These tips can come in handy.

  • Look at the competition: Make sure to add your competitors’ names as a targeting method. This will better the chance that your ad displays whenever a user receives an email from your competitor.
  • Keep your buyer persona in mind: Knowing exactly who you want to target is key. Keep your buyer personas in mind when creating your target list. Not sure if you have the right persona for the message you intend to send? Don’t worry, in this article we’ll walk you through the process of creating personas, step by step.

Mind your subject lines!

As your Google ad is displayed like an e mail, the subject line is key to make it perform well. If you are already running other text ads, be sure not to copy-paste them for your Gmail ad. Even if they yielded good results in the Google network. The headline/subject line itself can only be 25 characters long and the description (or preview text) is limited to 90 characters. That’s not much, so keeping your message clear and concise sentence is the way to go.

Do you want to be sure you’re writing short copy that works? Are you also sending emails? Analyse your best performing email subject lines and these learnings to your Gmail ad headline. If they worked well for an email campaign, chances are they will do the trick for your Gmail ads too.


Gmail ads are a great opportunity to reach potential customers’ inbox, without actually having them on your email list. They make an excellent channel to target your ‘top of the funnel’ contacts or for creating brand awareness. The bonus is that there’s considerably less competition for the reader’s attention. Since a user is already scanning his inbox, your ad at the top will have a better chance to be noticed and engaged with. Combined with a solid email strategy, Gmail ads can be incredibly helpful to convince and convert leads from within the inbox.

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Posted on
Oct 26, 2020