For those who have yet to see it themselves, Gmail unveiled a new ad format. Months ago, the company announced its goal for fewer and more relevant ads. If this is the product of that announcement, it will not be what most readers would have in mind. The new ad unit is a marked change - visually and functionally. While it is easy to look at the unit in the context of Gmail, this is all about the company getting ready to monetize Google+
When I saw the above, I didn't assume a new ad unit, more a cute dialog box. For fun, I clicked the "x." In the performance marketing world, the close button is rarely functional. Alas, Gmail made it functional, and the ad went away. Luckily, I saw another ad shortly after that highlighted this being a new unit not a message to me from the Gmail team. The visual difference alone is almost shocking.
Clicking on the above ad leads to this:
Above the new expanded ad are the following action buttons:
Clicking on "Save to Inbox," has the ad appear as an email sent from yourself:
This Is (Going to Be) Huge
In a Gmail only vacuum, these ads mark a fundamental and bold shift for the company long known for eschewing anything that looked like an ad and anything that competes with the content for the users attention on a page.
Here's a rundown of the major observations:
- Facebook like design with text and an image
- Functionality built into the ad, beginning with the ability to close it.
- Introducing a social element into the ads
- Introducing a self-contained ad experience (think pre-cursor to Facebook Pages)
As impressive as this is for Gmail, just imagine what happens when put in a Google+ environment. I had been trying to think of how the company was going not only monetize the platform but do so in a way that went beyond the standard blue and black three link text ads. Now we now. This is big and bold. Definitely not the Google we are used to seeing.
A few more examples are pasted below including my favorite so far, a lead gen ad from University of Phoenix.