Google is “spamming” Gmail users with new ads that look like e-mails


Any Gmail user who is not blocking ads knows Google has, for the longest time, shown ads in Gmail (as do other email provides, such as and Yahoo). However, those ads have typically been non-intrusive, traditional ads — ads shown at the top or to the side of emails. Now, however, reports are emerging Google has introduced a new type of ad in Gmail: ads that masquerade as emails.

Back in May Google introduced a new Gmail design that split your inbox into three tabs, ‘Primary’, ‘Social’, and ‘Promotions’. The idea behind this redesign was (is) to allow you to better filter your email and stay better organized. Initially this new type of inbox was optional but by now I believe most Gmail users should have been moved to this new type of inbox, although there is a way to disable the tabs.

The catch here is that along with this new design came a new type of ad.

If you look at the screenshot above, you will notice there is an ad placed inside a Gmail inbox under the ‘Promotions’ tab. The ad is marked as an ‘Ad’ and has the same light yellow background as traditional Google ads; the difference, however, is that this ad is not only placed inside your inbox (not above or to the side) but it also looks like an email. I haven’t yet received the ad myself so I haven’t had a chance to click on it but my guess is it also behaves like an email, too, if clicked upon.

VentureBeat is labeling this new type of ad as “spam” and we are inclined to agree.

To top it off, Google is defending this new ad by saying it is more relevant and is in a more appropriate place than before:

Instead of ads always appearing at the top of your inbox, they’ve been relegated to a more appropriate place in your Promotions category. In addition, we’ve raised the quality of these ads and won’t show you an ad unless it’s relevant — which means you may sometimes see no ads at all in your Promotions tab. You can also dismiss the ads you see in your Promotions tab by clicking the “X” button on the right-hand side.

It is important to note the ads do not seem to appear if you revert back to the old tabless Gmail.

So, what is your take on the issue? Let us know in the comments below and remember — you can always block ads if you are bothered by them.

[via VentureBeat, image via antonio.gulli]

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  • Mr.Dave

    It’s fine if Google can make a buck off people who read ads. If they can figure out how to connect me with someone selling something I want at a price I want to pay, I might even read their ads. So far my guess is of all the thousands of ads that cross my screen every week, I don’t even see 95 % of them. Of the remaining 5%, I might open (or click on) about 1% (that’s 1% of 5%, or 0.05%). Of those that I open, I might purchase something 1% of the time (that’s 1% of .05%, or .0005%). And of those where I purchase, less than 10% of the purchases are from the company who sent the ad (for those keeping track, that’s 10% of .0005%, or .00005%). Just a guess. Anyone else feel the same?

    Anyway, as I started to say, if they help keep me in Gmail, I don’t mind ignoring a few more ads each day.

  • Tom

    The tabbed interface drove me nuts… too many places to search out incoming emails, and then reclassify those that didn’t “fit” their tabs.

    Reverted to the former layout, and apparently am not exposed to this new “feature”. I wouldn’t be surprised if the sole reason for the tabbed interface was to load more ads into our webmail experience. That explanation seems to fit what we’re seeing here.

  • Seamus McSeamus

    Google. Don’t be evil, be a spammer.