GSP Ads: What You Need To Do With Gmail Sponsored Promotions

by | Feb 4, 2016 | PPC

by Natalie Eagling, AIM.

NOTE: There was an update to GSP Ads targeting in July 2017. You can read that update, here.

As direct response marketers (see ‘lead hackers’, ‘demand generators’), we are always looking for the next best way to drive traffic, convert leads and bring in new names to our business.

But we are, in some ways, victims of our own success. List universes are shrinking, exhausted. SEO produces valuable names, but it doesn’t bring that instant volume we crave – it could easily take a year or more to build a list via SEO.

We direct response marketers have to think smart, we have to hack to get what we want. We have to innovate to accumulate.

What if I told you that there is a new source of names, right under your nose – and you’ll probably pay less than you pay on Google search for them? “Enough of the crazy!” I hear you cry.

Seriously, listen up.

We’ve been hearing a constant rumbling about GSP ads for years now. But latestly it was officially launched as an Adwords product to the Adwords platform. (Cue squeals of excitement from our office…).

Hold up! What are GSP Ads?

Ok, Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP) are ads which appear in a Gmail users’ inbox, under the “promotions” tab. You can set them up and manage them via the Adwords platform.

There are many ways to do this and plenty of strategies to take; Keyword targeting, similar audiences, affinity audiences… the list goes on. We will cover all of these in a blog soon enough.

Essentially, the ads are made up of two elements. The first is similar to an Adwords text ad. GSP ads gives you a 25 character text headline and 100 characters of body copy (think “subject line”.) You also have a 50×50 image and the “Company Name” (think “from” name).

GSP Ads On Mobile

But then it gets better. The second element is the expanded ad. Each of these ads can be “expanded” to display more information. And that’s the click you pay for. If the user clicks the button within your ad, they will go to the landing page you define, but you won’t pay again.

This part is made up of many options; from text with banners, to image, to full blown HTML. Take a look at some examples below:

Gmail Sponsored Promotions On Mobile

Gmail Sponsored Promotions Rotating gif image

Tell me the really cool stuff…

OK, OK, there are some awesomely cool features about GSP ads.

First off, they look like a little like an email in the promotions tab of Gmail. When you click to “expand” the ad (like opening an email), they expand like an email. This expanded ad can contain;

  • Header image
  • Sidebar image
  • Around 930 characters
  • Button with predefined button text

(Pssst… we Agora-type folk are pretty good at email…!)

GSP Ads Inbox Example

The best strategy we’ve found so far for GSP ads, is to treat it like you would an email to a third party. Use a short lift note-style email, include a “Dear reader” and finish off with a strong call to action on the button.

Plus there is way more potential:

  • You can add an image instead of text to your expanded ad giving you greater control over the design.
  • You can even embed video.
  • You can target competitors and advertising partners alike.
  • You can target your own inhouse lists if you have custom audiences set up, and similar audiences based on those customer lists.
  • Did I mention this is all WITHIN YOUR AUDIENCES’ EMAIL PLATFORM. (Just in case that wasn’t clear the first time.)
  • Plus, you can create a HTML version of your ad and include a signup box…

Say what now? You can put a signup box within the ad?

Yep. You can upload a custom HTML, meaning you can treat your expanded ad a little like a landing page, and include a signup box. For example, you could create a form for email collection within the expanded ad.

For those at the back, we are putting a landing page into an email – form capture and all – and placing that email directly into the inboxes of the people we want to target.

That’s pretty cool, right?

Let me at it!

Hold your horses… there is one caveat.

You need to request permission from Google in order to be allowed to upload your custom HTML. This definitely shouldn’t stop you, but it might just take a little more time, and depending on your relationship with Google, it might put you off completely.

If you’re not comfortable doing that, don’t worry. We are. Just get in touch and we can get this in place for you.

AIM are testing this method with several client campaigns right now. We deliberately wanted to keep this article brief while we work on understanding what more we can do with GSP ads. We are seeing fantastic results so far. Keep your eye out for our next Gmail Sponsored Promotions update which will include real life results from the testing and strategies we’ve employed.

Of course, if you can’t wait that long, just get in touch today. We’re happy to help anyone get this set up and running in their business. It’s definitely not one to miss.

Watch this space…

Natalie Eagling,

Natalie Eagling
Account Manager, AIM

P.S. Please share your experiences with GSP ads on our Facebook page.  Also… please share this e-letter with a colleague.