What are Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP’s)?


So earlier this year, Google rolled out a new twist to users who have AdWords accounts, Gmail Sponsored Promotions, or GSP’s for short. They have actually been around for over 2 years but in beta form. You may have already run into one of these types of ads within your Gmail account. Here is an example from my Gmail account, and yes I am always dreaming of blue skies and palm trees:


These ads can be found under your Promotions tab within you Gmail account. These ads are based on emails from your mailbox and information from your Google account. If you have a Gmail account that is through your business you will not see these ads.

There are two creative parts of the Ad portion: the ‘teaser ad’ and the ‘expanded ad’. The teaser, like what you can see above contains company Logo/Company Name, a headline, as well as body text. There are some character count limitations to the promotions:

  • Company Name – 15 Characters
  • Headline – 25 Characters
  • Body – 100 Characters
  • Image size is up to 144px by 144px.

Setting up Campaign

Setup is pretty simple. The GSP will be set up like a Display campaign. Select new campaign, and display Network only. Recently Google has updated to try and make campaign creation a bit easier by creating Marketing Objectives; however for the sake of this demo lets select ‘No Marketing Objectives’ and ‘All features’.

Next select your desired location target, since this is a display campaign I tend to lean towards a large market (CPC’s tend to be very low, thus you can cover more area). As far as language, stick to one per Ad Group. Add your budget in, and Save/Continue.

Name your first Ad Group. I like to separate groups based on landing pages, but you can do it however you would like. Then set your bids to $1.00 (good chance you will only be paying $0.20/click, but bids of less than that have caused Ad Groups to not show at all).

Next we go under the “Choose how to target your ads” select ‘Use a Different Targeting method’ and select placements. Search for “mail.google.com” select (>>) and save.


How do I set up GSP ads?

In order to create a GSP ad you have to go into the ad gallery, and select the Gmail Ads.


In the next section, you have multiple choices of templates. The most popular is the single clickable image. It has a high visual impact and has a single call-to-action, which works great for most advertisers. I like the Single Promotion template; it gives a bit more info as well as a Call-to-Action button, which I highly recommend.

Like I mentioned above we are limited in a few things:

  • Logo: up to 144px x 144px
  • Company Name: 15 characters
  • Headline/Subject: 25 characters
  • Description: 100 characters
  • Image: 300px x [200px to 500px]

In the Single Promotion, you can have one message in the ‘teaser’ and a follow-up message in the ‘expanded’ ad, and you can edit the Call-to-action button text. Make sure you have a well-thought-out plan for your ads. Create copy that is sure to help drive conversions. Remember to catch the user’s attention in the teaser, so the more enticing copy, the better.

Who gets to see these ads?

Just like everything else in AdWords you get to choose who sees your ads. The beauty of these campaigns is that you can target by Keyword, Topics, Interests, Remarketing Lists, Demographics, or a combination of any of these. Just understand that your ad will only show up on the Gmail Promotions Tab.

I am partial to using my remarketing lists in most targeting because I already know that these users have shown interest. I have also combined Remarketing lists with Demographics and Keywords… just remember that the more targets you add the smaller the audience will get.  Take a look at this blog post for additional ideas on targeting on the display network.

Our initial attempt at GSP

Our first shot at GSP ads was successful. I set our campaign up in two separate Ad Groups to promote two different gated landing pages that feature downloadable white papers for our users. The reason I set it up is that way, rather than directing users to the homepage or a specific service page, was because this type of ad will attract a user who is currently at the ‘top of the sales funnel.’ They will needs to gain trust in us before he/she will be ready to join us in a business relationship.

GSP is an impression based medium. So exposure is the intent. With that in mind, start wide in your target and narrow down based on who is active. The results were very impressive with a very low CPC (even lower than our standard Display and remarketing campaigns), and a high CTR. With any display campaign, you can expect a high bounce rate that just goes with the territory.

One thing I would be interested in changing is testing the separation of Desktop and Mobile into different campaigns to see what difference that would produce (on mobile you are served one ad in Gmail and desktop you get two ads).

GSP’s are still primarily new to most non-heavy Gmail users, so make sure you are not serving ads to everyone. Limit your audience so you don’t blow your budget with little results. I would also suggest regular creative updates to stay fresh.  Now you have the basic setup and idea of the Google Sponsored Promotions ads, love to hear about your experiences with this somewhat new toy in AdWords.