One of the often overlooked options in AdWords is the “Gmail Ads” feature, or “Gmail Inbox Targeting” as we refer to it.

Below you’ll learn (1) what this is, (2) when to use it, and (3) how to set it up.

What Are Gmail Ads (aka, Gmail Inbox Targeting)?

Gmail Ads are ads that that show up people’s Gmail account, above their unread emails.  Here is what one of these ads look like the majority of people, who do not click on the ads themselves. (To see what the ads look like in fully expanded form, scroll to the bottom of the post.)

Collapsed Gmail Ad Example

When Are Gmail Ads A Great Idea?

Gmail Ads work really well if you have a particularly weak or vulnerable competitor. This is because you can target people who receive emails from one of your competitors already. So, your competitor will go through all the effort of building up a great email list, and you can then run a campaign that reaches all gmail recipients of their emails. This is an awesome tactic, but it only works if you can make an extremely compelling offer.

There are other ways to target Gmail Ads, but this one is by far our favorite way to do it, and in fact, we avoid using most of the other methods, as we have found them to be less effective. To summarize: we use Gmail Ads only when we want to run a “counter-competitive” campaign against a vulnerable competitor.

How Do You Setup Gmail Ads?

This is pretty easy, and so we will omit the details (which you can find here) and we will leave you with the dimensions necessary for the ads themselves.

If you follow the instructions below in creating the ads, you’ll be ready to launch your campaign in a matter of hours.

Collapsed Ad Specifications:

  • Logo (upload):up to 144 x 144 pixels (only visible for mobile traffic in collapsed view, and then on desktop for visitors who expand the ad)
  • Advertiser Name:up to 20 characters long – either a recognizable name or the domain name of advertiser.
  • Subject Line: 25 characters max, and Google recommends making this some form of “offer,” a percentage discount, or some compelling announcement.
  • Description: 100 characters max. This is for your call-to-action and summary.
  • Display URL: 255 characters max.

Expanded Ad Specifications

  • Image (upload):650 x [300–1000] pixels
  • Accepted image formats:JPEG, JPG, PNG, GIF (non-animated)
    Maximum image size: 800KB


Expanded Gmail Inbox Ad


Will Marlow is a search engine marketing consultant who loves helping high growth companies optimize and improve their PPC results: and he holds seven certifications: Google AdWords Search, Display, Mobile, Shopping, and Video Certification, Google Analytics Certification, as well as certification as a Bing Ads Accredited Professional.

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