Google’s initial concept for search and content advertising was simple but brilliant: to display highly relevant but non-intrusive ads to their users. But, oh how the mighty have fallen! Google’s precepts of non-interference have dwindled gradually over time as display ads were offered in the content network. However, the last several months have shown a new and ugly face from Google: video ads on YouTube and, now, display ads inside your Gmail account.
That’s right. Google’s advertisements in Gmail, once some of their least intrusive (and a good thing, too, lest we get even more distracted while in our inboxes), may be featuring display ads in the near future. According to Engadget, this is part of a test run for Google and will be happening only in select inboxes — although selection is randomized rather than volunteer-based, so don’t be surprised if you see some bright new advertisements. Further, Google claims these images will only show when you’re looking at an email that already has heavy image content.
The images are found in the right-hand column and feature the full color and giant square size we’ve come to expect from content network display ads. While there’s little word back yet (after all, it’s quite a limited test pilot sort of program), most analysts are predicting outrage from Gmail users.
When you couple this with the mandatory video advertising in YouTube, a huge and enraging step away from its previous unobtrusive advertising approach, it’s clear that Google is getting more comfortable getting into the faces — and eyes — of its users. This may be good news for advertisers using the content network, but for Google on the whole the approach also serves as a thorn in a primarily positive reputation.