Why We Love Gmail Ads
May 28, 2019

Why We Love Gmail Ads

Google Display Network (GDN) is one of the largest ad networks in the world and for digital marketers, it’s part of our everyday. 

For those of you not familiar, GDN enables advertisers to serve display and video ads on Google properties such as YouTube, Blogger and Google Finance, but also on over 1 million other websites such as the cosmopolitan.com, forbes.com, cnn.com and rollingstone.com, etc. that in total reach over 80% of worldwide Internet users.

GDN also has some alternative delivery options for display advertising and for sure one of our favorites is Gmail ads, sometimes called Gmail Sponsored Promotions or Gmail Sponsored Ads.

Got a Gmail account? Sure you do. You and over 1.5 billion other people as of 2018. Probably a Chrome browser too. And you use Google’s search engine, right?

Even without mining your email – a practice Google says it stopped in 2017 – it’s safe to say that Google has a pretty good idea of whether or not you’re in the market for a graduate degree, a new car, a gym membership or anything else.

With Gmail ads, marketers serve an ad right into a users Gmail inbox. And those ads can be very targeted. 

For example, in a campaign we recently ran for a large university, we specified that our ads should only be served to Gmail account holders who are:

  • Non-parent males and females ages 25-34
  • Physically located in five cities: Miami, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas and Houston
  • Modeled as in-market for a post-graduate business degree

We also created versions of the campaign to target users who were shopping our competitor schools and to target users who had previously visited our university website but who had not filled out the contact form. And finally, we uploaded our own list of emails of users who had filled out our contact form asked Google to find us more users just like them.

The results? Pretty darn good:

One note; Google does have a funny way of reporting Gmail ads by labeling email ‘opens’ as ‘clicks’. In more metrics language, these results are:

  • Open rate: 55.79% 
  • Clicks to website (as a percent of opens): .5%
  • Conversion rate (as a percent of clicks to site): 11.3%
  • Cost/conversion: $60.65

If you’re an education marketer selling graduate or post-graduate programs, these are numbers you’d take all day long.

But in the lead generation campaigns, metrics are only half the story. The other half is lead quality. If your sales team is chasing down poor quality leads, you’re sure to hear about it. So do Gmail ads deliver on that front? Yes!  Like traditional email marketing, users have to take multiple click steps to reach a landing page and can therefore be considered highly motivated. Unlike traditional display campaigns, Gmail ads are delivered only on a Google platform and therefore there is zero incentive for click fraud. And if you’re a lead gen marketer, you know that click fraud is a problem with platforms like GDN. And like search and display, Gmail campaigns can be based on very specific targeting and the use of first-party data to drive efficiencies.

So for you marketers out that for whom Gmail is an after-thought, here are a few pointers to get you started:

  • 1. Target as you would a traditional display campaign including Custom Audiences and remarketing.
  • 2. Experiment with creative and headlines – like with traditional email, headlines make all the difference.
  • 3. Use custom HTML – Gmail ads come with options to assemble ads using text and images but custom HTML can make your ads look really professional.
  • 4. Vary your content. Gmail ads can deliver multiple images and even video, making the platform ideal for retargeting users who might have demonstrated interest but who a little more rich content to get them hooked.
  • 1. Target as you would a traditional display campaign including Custom Audiences and remarketing.
  • 5. Use Conservative Automation. While we’re generally loath to give Google control of our campaigns, automation in Gmail functions similar to target CPA and more often than not gives us quality leads at a reasonable cost-per-lead.
  • 6. Track with the right metrics. We pay little attention to Google’s CTR metric and instead focus on clicks to website, conversions and even some softer metrics such as saves and shares.

In conclusion, Gmail is another option in our ARSENL, and can be in yours. And of course, just give us a call if we can help.

Reach Out

Tell us about your business and how we can help you.