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Implementing Gmail Advertising: Goals, Process, and Results

by Leandra Parks   |   Mar 22, 2016

Last September, Google rolled out the ability to use native Gmail ads in AdWords to all advertisers. Previously, this feature was released in beta only. With this exciting news, I became eager to test Gmail ads in a few my clients’ accounts. The experience of implementing this feature went very well despite the few challenges along the way. From analyzing the results, there were a few key learnings, which I will share throughout my blog post.

I will walk you through my goals, process and results of implementing this feature. But before I do, I will give you a brief overview of exactly what Gmail ads are.

What are Gmail ads?

Gmail ads are a sponsored ad type promoted only in a personal Gmail account. You can find them under the promotions tab. To note, these ads will not display in a Gmail business account.

The ads are displayed in Gmail in the form of two units. Unit 1 is the “teaser ad” and unit 2 is the “expanded ad”.

Unit 1(Teaser Ad)

gmail ads

Unit 2 (Expanded Ad)

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Initially, the user will see the teaser ad in their inbox. If the user is interested in the offer, he or she can click the ad to reveal an expanded version with the full information. If the user is further intrigued, they can click the expanded ad which will then take them to the advertiser’s website.

Key Learning #1 - Each advertiser is charged on a cost per click (cpc) basis when the user clicks the teaser ad. They are not charged when the user clicks the expandable version or when they are routed to the advertiser’s website.

Now that you have some context of what Gmail ads are, I will walk you through my experience implementing them for a client.

The Process

  • Establish A Campaign Goal: Setting goals should be your top priority at the start of any new PPC campaign. There were two goals I wanted to achieve by implementing this feature: 1) Extend the audience reach beyond my regular PPC advertising efforts and 2) increase brand awareness/traffic to the website.
  • Implementation of the Campaign: Since Gmail ads are a part of the display network, the first thing I did was create a display campaign. Within the settings of the campaign I enabled mail.google.com as a placement option.

Key Learning #2 This is step is very important because it ensures your ads will only display in the Gmail platform.

In addition to the steps above, the campaign targeted people in all states across the US seeking my client’s services.

Within the campaign, I created two ad groups. I implemented keywords related to the services the client offered in one ad group, and I targeted the domain of the client’s competitors in the second ad group.

I’m sure at this point you’re wondering how keyword and competitor targeting really works with Gmail ads. To be honest, it’s really simple.

For keyword targeting, the AdWords system will find relevant content within a user’s Gmail inbox and match the theme of your keywords. Once a match is found, an ad will display in the user’s promotion tab in Gmail.

With domain targeting, the AdWords system scans the content of an account for an email from a competitor’s domain. Once a match is found, an ad is displayed in the user’s promotion tab in Gmail.

The next step in the process is creating the ads. If your company already has an email program in place, you can utilize the creative for your ads. If not, Google provides multiple templated options for you to choose from. Once the creative and content is added you can start your campaign.

The Results

I ran the campaign for a total of 5 months. Within this time, the campaign received 5,090 clicks, 38,753 impressions, spent a total of $709.69 at an average cost per click of $0.14 and a click-through-rate of 13%.

Campaign Performance (October 2015-February 2016)

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Previously, I told you my goal for this campaign is to increase traffic. Comparing overall performance before and after implementation, clicks increased by 274%, impressions increased by 154%, CTR increased by 47% and average cpc’s dropped by 53%.

Account performance results before & after

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Branded traffic improved in performance as well. Clicks improved by 124%, impressions improved by 158%, CTR decreased by 13% and average cpc declined by 0.84%.

Branded performance results before & after

I conclude with my last key learnings. Gmail ads are definitely an underutilized feature by many advertisers. Aside from the additional reach this feature can add, you will also find the cheapest cpc’s Google can offer. You will see an increase in CTRs, as well as your impressions. If you’re looking for additional brand awareness, take advantage of Gmail ads. You will not be disappointed.

portrait of Leandra Parks

Leandra Parks

Leandra joined Workshop Digital in 2015 with agency and client-side experience. She earned a B.S. in Mass Communications from the University of West Georgia and started her career in SEO at a digital marketing agency in Atlanta. While there, Leandra was exposed to the paid search space and quickly found her passion, learning from her peers and her own self-teaching.

Leandra has worked in the paid digital space for over seven years and is most proud of being a speaker at Hero Conf and SMX West digital marketing conferences. At Workshop Digital, Leandra is excited about developing creative solutions to her client's most challenging business problems integrating paid digital platforms with a strategic approach.