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The Go-To Guide for Gmail Ads | #AdWordsAnswers


Hi AdWords Community,

I’m Priyanka from the AdWords team, and I’d like to share some information about Gmail Ads, a category of interactive ads that is now available to all advertisers.

When was the last time you checked your email inbox? Probably in the last hour. And guess what? So did millions of people around the world!

Gmail Ads (formerly referred to as Gmail Sponsored Promotions) are an innovative way to reach the 900+ million active Gmail users globally. Email is a big part of people’s daily routine, both professionally and personally, which is why Google has been testing ways to bring Gmail ads to advertisers for many years. All advertisers can now access and implement these ads from their AdWords dashboards.

Gmail Ads: What’s the buzz about?

So what are the advantages of using Gmail Ads? Well, there are quite a few advantages:

  • This format allows you to test interactive ads. Expanded ads, with their rich visuals, mimic a landing page, thus leading to more engagement with your target audience. These work on both mobile and desktop devices
  • In terms of a user base, Gmail has hundreds of millions of global users. That combined with our various targeting options allows you to tap into a massive audience
  • The new Gmail ads are integrated into Google AdWords, which means that setting them up has never been easier
  • Whether you’re looking at building brand awareness or driving sales, Gmail ads can help you achieve your goals
  • But don’t just take our word for it! The insights Gmail ads provide can be used to measure reach, open rate, clickthrough rate, saves, forwards, and so on
  • Did I mention that all of this falls under AdWords standard cost-per-click pricing?


So what will these ads look like? Users see a teaser creative (collapsed ad) at the top of the Promotions tab. The teaser opens into an expanded ad that you can design to promote a variety of goals (including embedded forms or videos).

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 2.23.05 PM.png


Creating a Gmail Ad Campaign: Let’s get started!

We’re excited that you want to give Gmail Ads a whirl! Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how to create these campaigns:

Starting a new campaign for Gmail Ads

  1. Start by creating a Display Network campaign (All Features) and set up the name, budget, and bidding as usual
  2. In the Choose How To Target Your Ads section, click on Use a Different Method, then select Placements
  3. Now search for “Gmail” and add from the list that populates. Click on Close and then Save

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 2.23.29 PM.png

Creating Gmail Ads in AdWords

  1. Once you have your Campaign set up, let’s get cracking with the Gmail Ads! Go to the Ads tab and click on the red +Ads button and select Ads Gallery
  2. Head over to the Gmail Ads options
  3. Take a look at the four options we have (Gmail Image, Single Product, Gmail Multiple Products and Custom HTML Upload) and click on Create and then Save your ad

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 2.23.38 PM.png


Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 2.23.44 PM.png
(An example of Multiple Products Gmail Ads)

How Targeting Works for Gmail Ads

Now that we’ve set up our Gmail Ads, let’s take a look at how we can best target our ads. Even if you’re a seasoned AdWords advertiser, it’s important to pay attention to this section since targeting for Gmail Ads works a little differently than regular Display Network targeting. An important point of difference is that the ads target users, and not the current email being read.

Different ways to target users through Gmail Ads:


Demographics (Mix of declared and inferred data)

User Attributes (Via the last 100 non spam emails in the user’s inbox)

Age (All, 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65 and over, Unknown)

Keyword targeting (Target users who have specific keywords in their inboxes)

Gender (All/Male/Female)

Domain usage (Target users who have specific domains in their inbox, which would typically mean they’re a part of a mailing list)

Language and Location (Based on Language Settings by the Gmail user and IP, respectively )

Topics (Based on thematic keywords in the inbox)


Affinity (Reaching users who have an affinity for specific products or categories)

Certain targeting methods that are currently incompatible with Gmail Ads, and will prevent ads from running:

  • Remarketing
  • In-Market Targeting
  • Placements apart from

Policies for Gmail Ads

Another important factor to keep in mind while setting up Gmail Ads is that policies for these ads are more restrictive than those of regular image and text ads. D make sure to check out the dedicated Gmail Ads Policy Page.


Making the most of the Gmail Ads: Best Practices

Gmail Ads have a lot to offer in terms of driving engagement through high-quality ads. To make sure you’re getting the most from these ads, here are some helpful tips and examples of best practices:


Getting creative with the Creatives


  • Have one main and prominent Call-To-Action in each ad (think along the lines of “Shop Now” or “Check out new products”)
  • Invest in creating visually stunning images or rich media ads that have harmonious color schemes, typography, and graphics
  • Highlight your product or service’s perks and differentiators
  • Refresh creatives every month to sustain user interest



Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 2.24.17 PM.png

Target carefully to reach the right users


Remember that targeting options within one Ad Group have and functionality, which means they will overlap.

For example, if in an Ad Group you’ve set up:

Target: People interested in Travel
Target: People with “Paris” in their emails

You’d be targeting people interested in travel who also have Paris in their emails, which would lead to a narrow target. Keep them in separate ad groups to ensure you’re reaching a broader audience.

  • Target users who converse in the same language as that of your creative and pick your audience from locations that are known to convert.

  • Since Keywords are Broad Match by default in Gmail Ads, we recommend starting out by using a select group of more generic keywords, then refining your targeting based on your results

  • For Domain Targeting, you could include your domain or domains you know your target audience is likely to have subscribed to in order to upsell, or alternately, exclude your domain to reach out to new users. You could also give tangential domain targeting a shot: say you’re offering domain registration--you could consider targeting domains related to entrepreneurship and startups.  

    Tip: Domains have to be added using the Display Keywords targeting option. Just search for the site and add it to the list!
    Supported domain syntax:,
    Unsupported domain syntax:

  • While looking at Topic Targeting, start with the most related topics, and then pick complementary topics to reach out to additional potential users

  • After allowing your ads to run for a while, consider using Conversion Optimiser to drive conversions in an efficient way

Need a hand?

Here are a couple of tools that you can use while setting up your ads:


  • Using Custom HTML ads and teasers? Check out the Creative Validation tool.
  • Use our trusty Display Planner and Keywords Planner in AdWords for website and keyword targeting suggestions
  • Don’t forget to check the metrics for Gmail Ads in AdWords by clicking on Modify Columns and selecting Gmail Metrics like in the image below. Saves refers to the number of times users saved the promotion in their inboxes, and Forwards refers to the number of times they sent it to their friends

    Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 2.24.26 PM.png

I hope this helped you to understand Gmail Ads and all they have to offer! In case you want to learn more about how these ads can be an integrated part of your advertising efforts, feel free to get in touch with the AdWords Support Team or leave a question below!

Elie T
December 2015


Hùng T
January 2016

Thanks for your article Man Happy

Colin Donohue Badged Google Partner
April 2016

@Priyanka B, would you have a resource of good Gmail ads?  For example good integration of video, full use of HTML capabilities (forms etc.)? 

I'm trying to walk clients through the process, but I don't have good examples.  All the ones I get in my inbox are just flat images. 

I'm sure there are awesome ones out there but I'm not finding. 

Also wanted to confirm that video views enter viewers into remarketing, correct? 
The ads have not been great for the clients I've tried it with as they have a low % going to the site, so majority of "opens" are not folks they can remarket to. 

Examples of high-performing ads would be wonderful to have!  

Even just an HTML ad with video and some other content/CTA

September 2016

Hi there!


Would targeting "" also target "Inbox" users? I guess it won't, since its domains is Right?



September 2016

No worries. Found out myself. Inbox is not currently supported.