Despite scientists’ best efforts, there’s still no way to inject ads directly into your veins, so Google is going for the next best thing. Reports from angry emailers across the web show Google cramming even more ads into one place where you can’t look away: your Gmail inbox.
Not only is the number of ads going up, but Gmail is sticking the ads in new, confusing places. Google used to restrain itself to two ads at the top of your Gmail inbox. Now, it seems, Gmail is bold enough to put the ads amidst all your emails right in the center of your inbox. It’s little ads masquerading as real emails, sitting innocently between your actual real emails. Take a look at these screenshots posted on Twitter, spotted first by 9to5Google.
The team running Gmail’s Twitter account agrees that this whole thing is a bummer. TechRadar spotted one user tweeting at Gmail, complaining about the ads in the middle of their god forsaken inbox. Gmail’s social media team responded, “That doesn’t sound good.” Nice that we’re all on the same page about this.
“We are always experimenting with ads formats and working on ways to help people discover and connect with new businesses,” a Google spokesperson said. “The Promotions tab shows promotional emails from businesses that people subscribe to, as well as offers and deals from companies people might like. We rolled out instream ads in the Promotions tab last year across mobile and in the past month expanded to desktop as well.” The spokesperson said that Google never uses the data users create or store in Gmail for ads, and said all of Google’s Gmail advertising includes an “Ad” label, which you can see in the examples above
Unfortunately, we’re not all lucky enough to see this exciting new experiment in marketing, at least not yet. Google appears to be in the midst of a test, showing these ads to some users and not to others. I just checked my own Gmail and didn’t see the new messages from corporations I was hoping for.
My inbox is filled to the brim with spam, though! That’s one form of advertising that Google doesn’t seem to like. In just the last week, Google announced new efforts to protect users from spam. Funny, if ya’ think about it, because these new ads are similar: messages that you didn’t sign up for clogging your email inbox. Of course, the big difference is that with regular old spam, Google doesn’t get a cut of the profits.
If Google follows through on this new ad plan, it will be one more entry in a growing trend. The tech business—and just about every other business—is hard at working finding more ways to show you more ads. Apple, for example, shoved new ads in the App Store recently, and reportedly plans on new advertising in its Apple TV service. Meta somehow found a way to put more ads on Instagram, and Google’s already introduced new ad formats on other parts of the web as well.
We’re in the middle of economic shrinkage, whether or not it’s a full blown recession. That, along with other forces, is pressuring companies to boost their revenue. Advertising is a simple and guaranteed way to bring in more cash. The only downside is your experience of the entire world gets more annoying in the process. Sorry, kids.
Update, May 9, 1:11 pm EST: This story has been updated with a comment from Google.