A Guide to Gmail-sponsored Promotion Ads

Besides actually having someone there in front of you, email is the most effective form of communication in the world. Marketing campaigns routinely harness a brand’s database, funnelling customers towards a sale with special offers or a timely reminder of their expertise.

Yet, recently, newsletters have begun to look outdated, as a new approach to consumer awareness takes precedent. Gmail Sponsored Promotion (GSP) springboards off Google’s email service – which boasts 900 million users worldwide – to target prospects with tailored adverts, direct to their inbox.

As a reported 56% of people prefer seeing marketing material in this format, there are rife opportunities for engagement with a successful GSP model. Your organisation can benefit massively from this fresh, exciting promotional technique, so let’s break down what it means and how to use it.


Ever since Google became our search engine of choice, personalised ads have been at the core of its business acumen, making browsers aware of services or products that might appeal to them. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising has done much for companies looking to gain measurable exposure, appearing at the top of search results that are relevant to the ad and, likewise, the consumer themselves.

Gmail Sponsored Promotion is merely a progression of these tactics, bringing tailored marketing right to the heart of a consumer’s digital life. In layman’s terms, GSP allows you to send an advertisement directly to someone’s personal inbox, based on their interests, browsing history, location and more. By searching for a keyword you’ve flagged up, or receiving a digital receipt from a product that’s similar to your own, consumers will receive tailored GSP adverts.


GSP adverts appear in the top section of Gmail, flagged up like a PPC ad, only with a subject line and an image to match. The customisable layouts let you organise content and aesthetic features to suit the promotion. If the prospect likes what they see, they can click on the ad for an expanded version that’s just like an email.

Once they’ve scanned through the content and accompanying images, there’ll be a link to the landing page you’ve selected for the campaign. Whether that’s an application form or product listing, GSP is designed to nudge people towards a transaction or measurable action.


Obviously, the main goal of any marketing campaign is to deliver on your business objectives, and GSP can modulate different approaches depending on your needs. Google has released figures that pointedly describe how marketing strategists see the role their content should play: the most popular intentions, ‘Engagement’ and ‘Retention’ (70% and 78% respectively, in a survey of marketers), are well-served by an ad in someone’s inbox, as it’s visually striking and imitates the feel of personal correspondence. A prospect is more eager to respond if you give the impression that you genuinely care about them.

Browsers might skip over a typical web ad, simply because they’ve become desensitised to this approach, yet GSP re-contextualises targeted advertising, bolting it onto a platform that people check on a regular basis. Once you’ve set up your GSP plan, you can test out varying times of the day in which to promote your business, and create device-specific targeting for tablets and mobiles, to maximise your return on investment.

Additionally, you can bid on the domain names of your competitors. When a customer receives an email from a business that’s similar to yours, they’ll see your advert pop up in due course, perhaps offering a better deal to increase your market share.


By now, you’re probably wondering how to implement GSP into your current marketing model. Let’s make it easy with a step-by-step breakdown:

Stage 1 – Outline the prerogatives

First off, you must have a verified Google AdWords account. Choose the ‘Campaigns’ option, followed by ‘Display Network Only’. You’ll then need to name your campaign and select your targets, as well as desired locations to hone in on.

Stage 2 – Form a bidding plan    

GSP can automatically bid on competitor domains, but you might not want to let this run away with itself. We recommend using the manual alternative, something that Google Partner agencies like ours can oversee. In any case, you’ll need to set a budget; you can increase this later as you see the results start to pay off. 

Stage 3 – Set the schedule

Like potential bids, the frequency of your ads can be capped, so you aren’t sending the same material to a single contact indefinitely. You can also pick the specific hours and days you want to send the promos out, or choose ‘Rotate Evenly’ so that you can measure the times of day where you have the best engagement.

Stage 4 – Create your ad groups

This is where you input the keywords and domains that you’re focusing on. Separate groups can be formed around specific areas of your business, such as ‘New Products’ or ‘Package Deals’.

Stage 5 – Select your templates

Finally, you’ll be asked to sift through several templates, or upload a custom HTML created by your agency. As experts in GSP adverts, our team can design a bespoke template for Gmail that helps your campaign jump off the screen.

It might sound complex, but Gmail Sponsored Promotion is making big waves in the realm of digital marketing. As GSP continues to break new ground, it’s a smart strategy for b2c organisations that want to target and personalise their marketing efforts.

If you’re thinking of stepping into the world of Gmail ads, Impression are here to help. From creating an action plan to monitoring results, we have the wherewithal to use this tool to its peak advantage. Contact us to learn more about how GSP can work for your business.