Pete Hamilton

Gmail ads looking a lot more like emails...

I’m sure I’m not the first one to find this out, but someone pointed out this morning that if you’re using new category-based email, Google has inserted an ad at the top of the “Promotion” tab emails which is now looking more similar to a regular email than before. You can even bookmark/star the promo/ad if you want.

For comparison, this is usually how ads appear:

It’s currently only on the promotions tab and from an advertising perspective, it’s probably pretty smart. After all, I’m there for recent emails relating to deals and promotional material, why not use that knowledge to their advantage?

That said, with ads looking more and more like my normal emails, for me it’s approaching the grey area where smart advertising becomes trickery. If I’m clicking on an ad because it’s relevant to me, fine. If I click on something I instincitvely believe to be an email but then turns out to be an ad, that’s pretty uncool.

Is it just me? What does everyone else think about this? Is it even new?

Update: Seems I wasn’t the first to find this out, Martin Brinkman also writes about it and there’s a post on the GoogleSystem blog about precisely this, with similar viewpoints expressed to those in the comments below and on HackerNews. Overall it seems putting it in “Promotions” isn’t that invasive and people don’t really mind.