Targeting The Funbox — Ad Powerhouse?

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As more advertisers dip their toes into the content network — now known as the Display Network on Google — many are finding it provides a different experience, complete with different pitfalls, opportunities, risks, adventures, problems, rewards — in short — just about every nuance of positive and negative you can imagine.

One thing you may not be aware of is that the Display Network is the key to advertising within Gmail. Those with Gmail accounts have undoubtedly noticed the sponsored ads that appear on the right side of the display when one has opened up a piece of email. Placement of ads within the Gmail property is automatic with the Display Network — there is no need to add it as a separate placement target designation. If your ad is sufficiently relevant to the subject matter and content of a particular email, Google will consider your ad for placement there. Whether you actually show up depends upon all the same factors that govern placement and order in ads placed on the Search Network, plus privacy and other considerations specific to email.

There are a couple of ways you can finetune things with placement of your ads within the Gmail scene. First, if you notice that, over time, ads that are showing up in Gmail tend to do better than other ads, try creating a campaign just for Gmail ad spots. Basically, you will just be separating out the Gmail-related keywords/ads, so you can try things like writing ad copy tailored to appeal to those reading email rather than general web searchers, adjust calls to action to fit the fact that you know viewers are in an email environment, keeping budgeting for Gmail type campaigns separate from others, etc. Be sure to remember that the domain needed for Gmail for this targeting is not “gmail.com” but “mail.google.com”

Second, Gmail has another spot where ads are shown. It’s called the Funbox and is located just under the search box inside Gmail.

This is kind of a unique setting, as only one ad is shown and its placement is in what some would consider to be an extremely advantageous position. With only one ad shown in the spot, there is no direct competition. The placement right above the listing of Inbox items puts the ad right in front of the viewer, with no need for them to shift their eyes or scroll to see the entire ad message. The problem comes in its very tendency to fade into the background of the general Gmail setup — nothing in the ad serves to make it stand out in the eyes of a viewer from many other text items in the same general area. Therefore, it sometimes takes Gmail users a bit of time to even realize that this is an ad. But once they do realize it, it’s likely that they will scan the text ad appearing in that spot each time they open an ad, while they may not shift their focus to the right-hand side as often (where the rest of the Sponsored Ads are located).

So how does one get one’s ad in this coveted Funbox area? It’s easy, actually. All you need to do is add a managed placement in your Display Network allowed sites (mail.google.com::Inbox,Top center). You may need to do some tweaking of bid prices, ad copy, etc., to get impressions to a point where you can start to see some results. Overall, the Display Network is a different kettle of fish for strategy in terms of PPC advertising, and adding the extra trappings and considerations of email to the mix can completely alter how you want to approach marketing to this audience in this environment.

About the Author

Frances Krug has worked in market research since graduating from UCLA with an MA and CPhil in Latin American history. As an editor and online content provider for the last 7 years, she currently is Associate Editor at iNET Interactive, where she also directs Search Marketing Standard's email marketing program.

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