Inbox Is Google’s Next Display Terrain


emailADOTAS – In a lament on the pathetic realm of self-serve advertising, Canned Banners’ Myles Younger cracked that impressions for a display campaign he ran on Google’s AdWords — employing specific keywords such as “creative optimization” and “ad verifier” — for some reason popped up on sites like and Somehow he doubted the audience he was trying to reach was spending oodles of time on those domains.

“I’m aware that AdWords lets you cherry-pick inventory from Google’s display network, but have you ever tried?” he asked. “You’re forced to sift through mountains of garbage to find the good stuff.”

Over the summer, Google’s display team talked a pretty lofty game in several locales, but all the chatter doesn’t seem to be equalling results. comScore says Google showed 35 billion impressions for a 2.7% share of display in the third quarter of 2010, well behind Yahoo (141 billion, 11%) and Facebook (297 billion, 23%).

But it looks like Google is going to tap its best inventory for display ads — Search Engine Land’s Greg Sterling caught this in his Gmail today:

A Google spokesperson reached out to Sterling to say, yeah, last Friday we started “experimenting with image ads on messages with heavy image content.” Sterling also notes that Gmail is technically part of the Google Display Network.

Gmail display ads are definitely in the testing phase — you can go hunting for them in your inbox, but they seem to be elusive. Will they become as easy to ignore as the text ads? Will the contextual targeting end up making you laugh?

Will Gmail users balk, ignore them or… I know this is a crazy suggestion, but possibly click?


  1. With keyword matching, I think this is going to be very successful. The ads I’ve seen so far are noticeable, but not overpowering or annoying. I for one would be thrilled to target Gmail via Google’s API – hint hint!

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