The biggest change I’ve experienced in my attitude toward online advertising since working in online advertising is that I no longer hate online advertising. We all have our favorite television commercials, our preferred radio spots, and even a billboard that we get excited to drive by. But what’s your favorite online advertising campaign? You mean you don’t have one? What, you think you’re too good for online advertising? Well you’re probably not alone. I have done exactly zero hours of research into this, but I’m going to guess that people like you (and…ok, even me) view online advertising as less creative and more intrusive/annoying than those other aforementioned (and more traditional) forms of advertising.
So where’s this all going? Well, this morning I woke up and checked my Gmail, as any blue-blooded American is apt to do. I opened up an email from friends about rafting down the Sacramento River and what attire to remember to bring (guess they forgot about my water phobia) and there it was, clear as the day: an image ad right there on the side of my Gmail message. A colorful image ad. Image ads in my email? Did Yahoo buy Google overnight? No – as it turns out, Google has been rolling these out, as reported here by TechWeb a couple months ago.
The regular guy in me (I’m a regular guy, I’ve been told) wanted to be mad at Google and get back at them for this atrocity by deleting my Google+ account (before I have figured out how it works). But then the online advertiser in me took over, giving me a less combative perspective (and also I had started sipping my morning tea so I was physiologically less cranky). The image ad, I had to admit, was spot on. It was for a company called Loft that was inviting me to check out their selection of shorts, flip flops and more. Why that ad? Well as I mentioned, the email I was currently reading included references to…shorts and flip flops. I’ve always been a big fan of Google’s contextual targeting through Gmail. Yes, their Display Network in general can be hit or miss, but I’ve found that conversion rates on Gmail are consistently among the best value on the Display Network, regardless of client or product.
Bottom line? If Gmail’s image ads continue to be champions of relevant, contextual targeting, I would like to roll out the welcome mat. I’m excited to utilize these in future AdWords campaigns since the image ads essentially guarantee they’ll be noticed (as opposed to the easier-to-ignore text ads that have traditionally populated Gmail’s sidebar while reading emails). Online advertising may never be as sexy as it’s offline cousins, but damnit if it can’t be more personally targeted to what you need.
Have image ads appeared in your Gmail messages yet? What’s your take on them – intrusive, relevant, or both?