The Marketer’s Guide to Gmail Native Ads

Last modified:
Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

So, to give you a head start on all of this, we’ve put together this essential guide to Native Gmail Ads.
Read it, use it, and then share it with all of your marketing friends. It’ll make you look really clever, we promise.

What Are Native Ads?

A native ad is anything that’s formatted like the content surrounding it, such as a sponsored tweet, for example.

They show up amongst the content you’re expecting to see, so sidestep that nasty ‘banner blindness‘ that most savvy internet users have come down with over the past few years.
And not only are these native ads contextual, but thanks to near omnipotent search engines that know exactlywhat we’re searching for online, they’re targeted too.

What are Gmail Native Ads, though?

Hold your horses, we’re getting to that. Now that I’ve given you a whistlestop tour of native, you should have a pretty good handle on where these are going to show up…

Bingo! Right there in your inbox, next to those hard-working brands that you’ve deemed important enough to give your email address.

First of all they appear in a collapsed format but when they’re clicked on (and you’ll be charged on a cost per click basis) they expand into a full email-sized ad with buckets of potential.
Oh, and happily, once they’re expanded, any further clicks are free.
Google are likening these expanded ads to full-blown landing pages, and like landing pages, they can be completely customised to say and do just about anything you want them to (providing you’re complying with Google’s advertising policies and technical restrictions, of course).
Imagine that! Getting a well-designed landing page into email inboxes everywhere. Sounds good, but not as good as getting one into your ideal customer’s inbox, right? Well, that’s exactly what Gmail Native ads allow you to do.

How do Gmail Native Ads work?

The great thing about Gmail Native Ads are their unique targeting capabilities. They utilise all of the standard AdWords targeting options (like contextual, remarketing, geographic and demographic) and throw in a couple of pretty impressive extras, too.

Google, in their wisdom, have been working hard to make sure that their users see only useful, relevant ads. So far, they’ve done this by utilising information from your search queries, the sites you visit, and your Google Profile. This means that if you’ve been using the web to research a new camera before buying one, you’ll likely see a few camera ads displayed in your browser.
Gmail Native Ads automatically scan the text in your Gmail account in order to do the same, namely show you ads that are relevant to you. We should emphasise here that this is an automated process. No humans will ever read your emails, and none of the information contained in them is given to advertisers. Google is simply an enabler, using technology to match up the two.
Think about it, if you’ve just booked some flights, wouldn’t you rather see some ads offering you discount at hotels at your destination than more irrelevant PPI ads? It’s a win-win situation.

How to use Gmail Ads

One of the most exciting features of Gmail Native’s unique targeting capabilities is domain targeting, which allows you to target, by domain, the companies that a person receives email from.

But why would you want to do that? 
You could target your own domain
Say you’re already in touch with a customer and you’re emailing them regularly. Depending on the industry you’re in, only roughly 20-30% of these emails get opened.
Using a supplementary Gmail Native ad gives you a second chance at engaging these customers. Let’s go back to the camera analogy – by layering up domain targeting with a particular keyword (such as a specific model of camera) you could target customers who’ve bought that camera with a time-sensitive deal on a supplementary product, like a flash, for example.
You could target competitors’ domains
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Say you’re Zoopla and you fancy doing some Rightmove poaching, that’s easy-peasy with domain targeting.  Targeting competitor domains also has the potential to be huge for retailers, particularly when layered with keywords such as ‘your order’ and ‘receipt’, as if users are buying from your rivals, there’s a good chance they’d consider buying from you too.
You could target complimentary domains
This works similarly to targeting your own domain. Say you sell holiday insurance, you could target a few airlines, for example.
You could target personas by domain 
This one works well for high net-worth individuals, who are notoriously hard to get in front of. If you’re selling luxury honeymoons in Bora Bora, why not target engagement rings from De Beers? Again, it’s all about layering up your targeting here to make sure you get the most bang from your buck.   

Who do they work best for?

Google Native are impression-based ads, which means the people viewing them haven’t actively sought them out. For this reason, they work really well with advertisers targeting people who’re pretty high up the funnel and want users to carry out a free action, such as filling in an email address, for example.

That’s not to say that they don’t work well for advertisers who want users to part with their cash – they’ll just have to be extremely clever about convincing them to do so.

How to make the most of Gmail Native Ads

Big Budgets

As we mentioned earlier, the expanded ads can be all singing, all dancing spectacles that blow your potential customer’s minds.
If you’ve got the budget for that sort of thing, the time to strike is now.

Every January, the internet is FILLED with ‘Best X of the Year’ posts. You could top this for Gmail Native!

Competition is sparse, so put your PPC guys and your creatives in a room and don’t let them out again until they’ve come up with something awesome.

It’s a targeted landing page, for goodness sake! You really could go nuts.

Even if you haven’t got a big budget, it’s also possible to work from templates in AdWords to build great ads that feature images, videos, forms, CTAs and phone numbers.
However – it’s important not to put the horse before the cart here. No one’s going to see your big, sexy ads unless you get them to click on the condensed version first. 
Remember, Gmail native ads are visible to those you, as a marketer, deem most likely to be interested in what you’re selling, and as a result, your targeting needs to be spot-on.
Your creative has to hit the mark, too. As mentioned previously, unlike with search-based marketing, the people viewing your ads have not come looking for you, so it’s up to you to pique their interest with what you’re displaying in the small space above their emails.
Wording and design are crucial here – they can make or break your campaign – so don’t just leave them to your paid search professionals. Don’t get me wrong, they’re fantastic when it comes to the finicky bits, but when it comes to creative, it pays to use copywriters and designers who’ll put time and strategic thought into it.

Think teaser copy that arouses curiosity, asks a question, creates mystery, establishes urgency, promises a benefit or challenges the reader in some way. It’s all about the clicks, so don’t waste your chance to engage!

Intrigued? Why not give Gmail Native Ads a whirl?

If all of the above has whet your appetite for Google’s latest offering, then you’ll be pleased to know that we at Liberty can help you put them to work.

We’ve got a crack team of PPC experts and a gaggle of creative genii who can’t wait to get their teeth stuck into a meaty Gmail Native campaign that will get you the results you need.
After all, we look good when you look good, so let’s get together and do this thing.

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Sophie Monks

Senior Social Specialist

Sophie has over 6 years of experience in the social media and content space, working in both in-house organisations and agencies. She has worked with exciting established brands in her time such as Campari, Aperol Spritz, Oppo Ice Cream and PayPal Australia. She enjoys the content creation process – from mapping out the shot and…

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