Gmail Ads Get a Facelift!

August 7, 2019

Gmail Ads (formerly known as Gmail Sponsored Promotions) just got a facelift! What kind of improvements did Gmail Ads get, you ask? The biggest changes here are:

  • No more logos
  • Less real estate
  • Little yellow “Ad” logo
  • White background

Here's what Gmail ads looked like before the design change:

gmail ads makeover

And here's the after:

new gmail ads look

Let’s break this down…

The Good

Here's what I like about the new Gmail Ads look:

  • Yellow Background Gone - It’s been replaced with a white background, making Gmail Ads look and feel more organic. Instead of sticking out, the ads now blend seamlessly into the inbox. The advantage of being in first position is, thankfully, retained.
  • More Native - At the end of the day this facelift gives Gmail Ads a more native look and feel! Traditionally, native ads tend to have better performance, so hopefully the results here are similar.
  • No More Logo - Eliminating the logo makes it much less obvious that the email is, in fact, an ad. Attention is drawn instead to the headline text, making your message the focal point. On the other hand ... (see below)

The Not So Good

Here's what I'm not so sure about yet:

  • No More Logo - The logos will be missed for at least one reason: Gmail Ads can rack up tons of impressions. Even if your ad didn’t get clicked on, the visibility of the logo served as a nice brand-building tool.
  • Less Real Estate - The old version had a headline and then a description line below, effectively doubling the size of a standard email. In the new version, the headline and the description line live together on a single line. Again, this does make it look more like the other "organic" emails in the tab.
  • Little Yellow 'Ad' Logo - The original indication that this was an ad used to be a small almost barely visible “Ad” written below the advertiser’s brand name. Now there’s a bright yellow “Ad” logo adjacent to the headline. This yellow “Ad” is the same as the one that appears next to PPC ads on the Google SERP.

This change seems eerily familiar to when Google changed the way ads look on the SERP back in 2013. That made PPC text ads look much more native among its neighboring organic results. The change is a bit refreshing since Gmail Ads have had a high click-through rate to open the email ad and a relatively poor click-through rate to the advertiser’s website. It will be interesting to see if users were just opening the email because it drew so much attention and not because they were actually interested in the offering, like a kid tricked by something shiny on the floor that they thought was candy. If so, this could better qualify your ad clicks!

Old Gmail Ads:

gmail ads change

New Gmail Ads:

gmail ads now more native

Of course, Google usually tests these things extensively before releasing, so there's reason to believe the new Gmail Ads look is driving better performance for most advertisers. What do you think?

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