Gmail Advertising Showdown: Gmail Sponsored Promotions vs. Managed Placements

January 3, 2014

The Gmail platform has been evolving, and Gmail advertising options are no exception. The ongoing Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP) beta was rolled out in early 2013, introducing new targeting and display options for advertisers. Previously, search marketers could target an audience on Gmail through managed placements. With GSP, Gmail advertising targeting became much more advanced. Aside from your normal display targeting options via the AdWords interface (age, demographic, keywords), you can now target by more options including email address, subject line, job title and product category. The catch? A very high spend requirement, without guaranteed results.

The promos are also managed through an interface separate from Google AdWords, which can only be opened in the Chrome browser. Here’s a snapshot of the interface.

Gmail Advertising How-To

We’re always excited to try new betas as they’re introduced; some have proven successful and some disadvantageous. Due to this level of inconsistency, we tend to approach betas with skepticism, and perform our due diligence of testing. I’ve been running Gmail advertising campaigns via Managed Placements for a few of my clients and have seen success at relatively low margins. I recently launched my first Google Sponsored Promo to compare results with a Managed Placements campaign. Here are our very early observations.

Gmail Sponsored Promotions Offer Better Display Options

Rather than your generic text ad that we’re able launch via a Gmail Managed Placement, GSP allows you to deliver subject line, teasers, and full-page ads directly to your targets’ inboxes.

Subject Line & Teaser:

Gmail Advertising Example


Gmail Sponsored Promotions

Caveat: Gmail ad creation is much more complex than typing in a simple text ad, and involves a bit of HTML code, among other components.

Gmail Sponsored Promotions Have Higher CTR than Standard Gmail Ads

Since the launch of the GSP campaign, we are seeing an average CTR of 11%. This is the click-through rate of visitors who clicked on our teaser or email subject line and saw our full-size ad. External clicks to the website are much lower, but still comparable to an average CTR of 0.02%.  

Gmail Sponsored Promotions Have MUCH Stronger CPA

So far our average CPA with GSP is averaging around $40. This is an 80% decrease from our Managed Placement Gmail campaign, which sits just below $200.

I haven’t seen results at this scale this early on from a beta since, well, ever. Although Gmail Sponsored Promotions come with a price tag, the competition level in the space is relatively low, whereas the managed placement space has become more saturated. It will be interesting to see how performance changes with different targets, creative, and increased competitive landscape.


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David Herold
Jan 04, 2014

Hi, thank for great article!My questions:is this new type of targeting still in beta? And in which countries? Thanks,David

Intesab Husain
Jan 10, 2014

How can i creat this typs of campaign? Can you please asist on it..Thanks..

Cara Membuat Email
Jan 17, 2014

Great post. I'm very need it for current my business. thanks Jaclyn

Mar 18, 2014

It is interested to try Gmail Sponsored Promotion. Moreover if it has an average CTR of 11%. Thank you very much, its a very useful article for me. 

Emmanuel Madubuike
Apr 11, 2014

I love it.

Sep 20, 2014

Hi Jaclyn,In the paragraph I cite below, I didn't understand where you're reffering to with the 0.02% CTR. Is this the usual CTR you're seeing for the regular gmail placements and,Top center? I'm asking because this is the area of the CTR I see there for some keywords, while other keywords can reach 0.5%.My general benchmark for display is 0.1% CTR, but from these placements I actually expected a CTR more similar to search. And I even saw this post on the Community Forum (message #5 in this thread: that cites an AdWords Support Team member saying the CTR Google expects is around 1%.Many thanks,AviAds

Since the launch of the GSP campaign, we are seeing an average CTR of 11%. This is the click-through rate of visitors who clicked on our teaser or email subject line and saw our full-size ad. External clicks to the website are much lower, but still comparable to an average CTR of 0.02%.

May 09, 2015

I would like to know to execute this process.

Sep 03, 2015

How to do Conversion Tracking for GSP(gmail sponsored ads) in adwords?

Hi Everyone,

I have created an Account for GSP(gmail sponsored ads) in html coding and the Enquiry form is embedded within the image, so user can fill up the enquiry after the ad is expanded within Gmail, as the Enquiry if filled up the user will be moved to thank you page.

But I do not know how to track the conversion within adwords, so that i can see the performance at all level like ad groups, ads and keywords and can do the optimization.

I have used the conversion pixel on submit button of the enquiry form and tried to use the Google tag manager, but they do not track as GSP html ads do not support Java script.

So is there anyone who can help me out on the same like implementing the pixel as image etc.

Waiting for your valuable feedback.


Sep 03, 2015

Hi Murari,

GSP has evolved quite a bit since this post was published. The ads are set up directly within the Adwords UI now, so conversion tracking is set up the same way as Adwords (it simply becomes it's own campaign in the Adwords UI). Please note that this product is still in beta and may not be available to all advertisers. I won't be surprised if it's fully rolled out soon since it seems to be quite successful.

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