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White Papers

The Essential Guide to New Updates for Gmail Ads

Produced by Hanapin Marketing

Google rolled out some new updates that will have an impact on the way marketers implement their Gmail ad campaigns. First, Gmail will no longer be mining its email content for ad targeting. Instead, Gmail will be implementing domain targeting. This is important because now advertisers will have to think in terms of audience rather than contextual advertising when targeting their audience. This update is intended to optimize Gmail and to allow marketers to get the most out of their ads.


The new update reflects a major shift from targeting keywords to utilizing other targeting strategies. This shift focuses on audience targeting powered by logged-in user data such as demographics, search and browsing behavior, etc. In turn, Google looks at this data in order to target consumers with their ads. As we will see later in this white paper, Google is finding bigger gains by using in-market and affinity audiences, rather than targeting keywords that show up in the shoppers’ inboxes.

The Updates


Google has updated the process for utilizing their Gmail ads in three different ways. These updates include:


  • Streamlining campaign development
  • Improving targeting
  • Enhancing measurement


Streamlining campaign development


In previous years, it may have taken you up to 10 to 15 steps to launch Gmail campaigns from concept to actually running. In 2017, Google has changed all that. The new updates’ goal is to ask advertisers less questions so they can create campaigns faster. When you begin a new campaign using the updated AdWords, Google will ask you right off the bat if you want to run a Gmail campaign or a standard display campaign.


Google also implemented a new ad creation flow. Instead of asking you to choose a specific layout or template to run in, advertisers can upload their assets and Google will optimize it for them. Advertisers will never have to know which template will be the best ever again. This is a timesaver as well as an optimizer.


Although some of the lingo has changed on the interface, the bones of AdWords have not changed. Google is rolling out new layouts that go with the asset-based flow. Also, there is a new feature called a marketing image. This entails placing the brand story (image) front and center. This allows advertisers to add an image or video, which is a good way for customers to get a high level of understanding of a brand.


You can streamline your own campaign developments through Gmail ads by following these tips:


  • Incorporate larger images, a clear call to action button, and descriptor text.
  • Add catalog images that are features of your product, or different subsets of your offering.
  • Make sure it’s clear to the user what you want them to do.


Improving Targeting


Google is now offering an option for marketers to target their audiences based on their household incomes. Additionally, Google is improving existing targeting options through its new Gmail ad updates. They are making updates in three different categories when it comes to targeting:


  1. Remarketing
  2. Affinity Audiences
  3. Life Events




Remarketing is often the bread and butter for some campaigns. For the first time ever, Google is now offering the ability to remarket to existing site visitors. This changes the game when it comes to advertising in Gmail. If you have an AdWords remarketing tag, you can add those in your Gmail campaigns.


Affinity Audiences


Google is now offering advertisers the ability to reach customers based on their shopping and consumption habits. This new feature will be found under Affinity Audiences. These Affinity Audiences will include categories such as shoppers, food & dining, media & entertainment, news & politics, and lifestyles & hobbies. Under these categories, advertisers will find even more specific subcategories. For example, under the shopper’s category you would find shoppers who eat out often, shoppers who go to concerts, shoppers who shop online, etc.


These affinity audiences will continue to evolve and grow in AdWords in order to allow advertisers to target their ideal audience.  Affinity audiences are designed for advertisers who are trying to grow their reach, whereas keyword targeting reaches a very niche audience, this type of affinity audiences can target larger audiences.


Life Events


Google will also be allowing advertisers to reach customers in key life moments.  This feature can be found under Life Events section. Gmail ads will target people in a 3 to 6 month window who are either:


  • Recently married
  • Recently graduated
  • About to move


There are behaviors that AdWords can now look for that indicate an impending life event. AdWords will now be allowing advertisers to utilize Life Events as a targeting option in their Gmail ads in order to target for those important times. Advertising for huge life events can be very mutually beneficial for the advertiser and the consumer. According to WordStream, advertisers saw a 50% lift in ad recall, 35% lift in purchase intent, and a 5x lift in search when they utilized life events to target customers.


You can utilize Life Events to target audiences who could utilize your product or service for purchases that tend to happen around or because of a major life event such as a wedding or graduation. There are patterns of behavior that tend to indicate an impending life event. Looking for an apartment and working on your resume and upgrading from kegs of swill to four-pack microbrews, for example, might establish that someone is graduating. If your product or service could help someone at this stage in your life, your advertising to them is a mutually beneficial proposition.


Another part of this feature will allow advertisers to target customers based on their household income.The last update under the Based on household income: be able to reach anyone from the top 50% to the bottom 50% in Japan, U.S., Australia, and New Zealand for now.


Additionally, with Life Events we will be able to see “before and after.” That means, for example, with the moving life event, we will be able to see if someone is about to move or if someone just moved. This feature could make a big difference in your marketing message!


Enhancing Measurement


The new Gmail ad update also allows for more enhanced measurement. The update allows advertisers to see how Gmail ad impressions influence the conversion path, which can be seen in the Conversions tab in AdWords. Additionally, this feature allows advertisers to understand your campaign’s impact on in-store visitation (which requires a Google account team).


How to Skyrocket your Clients’ Sales Using Gmail


How can advertisers drive more qualified brand traffic and more sales from non-brand traffic? The answer to all of these questions is to implement Gmail ads. Gmail ads are perfect because they give us:


  • More personable ads
  • Defined targeting
  • Multiple ad formats


Gmail ads are very personable. The ads are placed right in the user’s inbox where they can be the most effective. Additionally, Gmail ads are put in front of the users that Google knows will fit the advertiser’s target demographics and are more likely to convert. Also, various ad formats allows advertisers to be creative when displaying their Gmail ads.


Additionally, Gmail ads allow you to target your audience in many different categories. These categories include:


  • Age/gender
  • Geo/language
  • Keyword
  • User interest verticals
  • Domain
  • Product purchase
  • Job
  • Device


Ad Formats


Sometimes the most opportunity is simply in reallocating. The more an area performs, the more you shift your spend towards that top performer. Account managers at Hanapin have had a lot of success in reallocating spend to Gmail ads without increasing budget and seeing a large increase in clicks in our accounts. We can capitalize on the effectiveness of Gmail ads by paying special attention to the formatting of our Gmail ads.  Gmail offers four different templates for formatting that you can shape further to match your specific needs. You can choose between four different templates which include:


  • Image template
  • Single promotion template
  • Multi-product template
  • Catalog template


Make sure the format you choose is the best for both your company and the customers. Ask yourself, what format will speak to my target audience the most? Also, make sure the templates fit well with your brand’s overall look and feel.


Don’t Panic, We Got This


In conclusion, do not panic about learning a new system. Google is making these changes to optimize Gmail ads for the advertisers, not themselves. Meaning, advertisers just have to get used to the new layout of AdWords in order to implement their best Gmail ads yet. Remember, the new Gmail updates are moving away from keyword and contextual targeting and instead shifting to audience based targeting. So think broader picture; what are the best ways to target to your customers utilizing the new Gmail updates?