Changes in GMail advertising

Advertising in Google’s GMail has been available almost since its inception, but the company has been promoting the idea more over the last year or two. However, the traditional USP of the system, that it can scan the email and show appropriate ads, has always disconcerted advertisers and made many keep their distance.

This shouldn’t be an issue any more. Google has announced that “consumer Gmail content will not be used or scanned for any ads personalization” by the end of the year. Of course, it may be several years before everyone gets the message, but it’s an interesting move. In future, ads will be shown to consumer GMail users based on what Google already knows about you and your interests, rather than what’s in your emails.

Even if you’re a GMail user (like me and 1.2 billion others), you may never have seen adverts. The business service (part of what is now known as G-Suite) has never shown adverts, and if you use the commercial service but read your messages through an app or other email client, rather than webmail, you may never have seen them either. Hundreds of millions of people do though, so it’s always been an advertising outlet worth considering. By and large, we’ve not recommended it to clients, because we doubt whether ads for industrial products appearing in personal, non-work email streams is a wise move. But we remain open to the potential.