Gmail Sponsored Posts: A Cost-Effective Display Medium?

by | Jul 28, 2014 | Online Advertising & PPC

Google is continually rolling out new BETAs and products to improve your paid search campaigns. One that seems to have captured the attention of the SEM team here at Search Factory is Gmail Sponsored Posts (GSPs).

GSPs allow you to reach your audience at the right time through Gmail across the Google Display Network. Unlike a manual text ad placement campaign across the Gmail domain however, GSPs provide a lot more exposure for your brand.

As shown below, GSP ads can show above, below or to the right of email messages on desktop, tablet and mobile devices. All three of these ad formats will display simultaneously, allowing you take over the ad results.

How it Works

Users choose to engage with GSP by clicking on the teaser creative within their inbox. When clicked, the ad will expand to a larger creative with additional product, brand or promotion information. The ad can include images, text and embedded video for engagement. More importantly, these ads allow you to embed lead forms directly into the creative, creating a seamless conversion experience for the user.

Like most display campaigns, these ads are based on a cost per click model, where you are only charged when the user clicks on your ad.

In terms of targeting, you can reach users based on their location, age and gender, as well as the typical display targeting criteria of interests, jobs, keywords within user’s inbox and domains (this may include competitor domains – for example, if a user receives a newsletter from your competitor, you could potentially capture some of your competitors traffic). Email lists were previously available as a targeting method for GSP, but have since been removed.

Over the last few months here at Search Factory, we have being testing this medium across a few of our clients.

What have we found?

Over a 4 month period, we ran a GSP campaign using a combination of keyword targeting, email lists and competitor domain targeting. We used rotating creative to promote a range of offers throughout this period based on what was performing best.

Our ads were served to 5,733,209 users and accounted for 48% of all leads generated through display activity. In addition, we saw a 39% lower cost per conversion (CPA) when compared to a standard GDN campaign for the same client.

Competitor domains proved most cost effective in terms of targeting. When compared to keyword targeting, the open rate (the number of people who clicked to open the teaser) for domain targeting was 9% higher and the CPA was on average 56% lower. While keyword targeting far surpassed the reach of our domain targeting, the external click rate for this method (the number of users who left the creative and clicked through to the website) was 105% lower.

As such, if your goal is to generate branding and exposure, keyword targeting is the way to go. Alternatively, if your goal is to generate quality leads in a cost effective manner, then we’d suggest testing domain targeting.

GSP is still in beta and not available to the public at this stage. You will need access this BETA through your search agency or Google account rep. Our initial findings however, show that this appears to be a cost effective display medium at driving conversions.

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