Gmail ads moving into the Discovery Ads umbrella

Eras come and eras go, and the era of advertising directly on Gmail via Display campaigns has now come to a close, with a new announcement from Google.

Here’s the boil down, then some context. Boildown: you can no longer create standard display ads to appear on Gmail. Instead, going forward (after July 1st, 2021), you’ll have to manage Gmail ads via Google Discovery campaigns.

The context, at one level, is that Gmail ads have long been an after-thought from both Google and PPCs running campaigns. Yes, you can create them and manage them. But it was just a minor thought wedged between big thoughts. Okay, let’s have Gmail ads appear!

Indeed, Gmail ads have always been a step-child. (Are you a PPC who has awesome experience with Gmail ads? I’d love to talk and you can come join our community of PPCs; I’m sure others would love to hear about your experiences!)

And guess what? With this announcement, the status doesn’t change–rather, it just moves from one category to another. So Gmail ads are still under-emphasized and will probably continue to be under-utilized.

(There’s an alternative universe where Google puts Gmail ads first and center but we have to assume it doesn’t do that, on purpose, because it doesn’t want users to think that Google is reading their email. Even if, of course, they are.)

But this change does have some general and some concrete ramifications.

In general, it shows Google’s continuing investment in the newer “Discovery” campaign type. That campaign type, in case you missed it, is basically display-like ads that appear only across Google properties. It represents the continued shift to emphasizing ads on other Google properties above all.

More concretely, this has some immediate ramifications. Let’s look at them:

First, you should recreate all your Gmail ad campaigns within Discovery campaigns.

Second, note that current campaigns you have will still continue running indefinitely (or until Google says otherwise) but after July 1st, 2021, you won’t be able to edit them. (Other than stopping them, presumably.)

Third, as Discovery campaigns, they will have the same limitations as all Discovery campaigns. This includes their ad sizes and formats, as well as Smart Bidding.

Fourth, in case you’re still in the Old School using keyword targeting for display–that’s gone in Discovery campaigns. So no keyword targeting for Gmail anymore. Note that keyword targeting was never by email but more about the user–so it’s not like an important targeting feature was lost. Google has been slowly decaying all keyword targeting lately (incredibly, even within Search ads!)

Fifth, there is no one-click import or campaign update option. You have to re-create the campaigns completely.

Sixth, due to recreating the campaigns, note that all campaign history will be lost.

Seventh, there two types of Gmail ads that will be shown: “Single business ads” and “Multi-retailer ads.” Their names speak for themselves: just your ad; or yours with a few others?

The above changes have a bit of an “inevitable” feeling to them. Google has been moving all ads on their properties to the Discovery format. Google has been letting Gmail ads decay. Google has been letting Display ads decay. Hoping they would revive them was always a big hope and always unlikely.

If any of you use Gmail ads successfully–let’s talk! It’s so under-used that there’s a lot of opportunities there. Or if you want some tips and strategies about doing so–brainstorming is always fun. Just drop me a note; you know where and how to find me.

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