Gmail to Serve “Better Ads”

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Google is working on showing better ads to users of its web-based Gmail service, attempting to tighten its algorithms so that the ads are more relevant to users.

Google’s Gmail product manager, Steve Crossan discussed the position that Google finds itself in with regard to advertising in Gmail in a post to Google’s Official Blog, saying that the big (and ongoing) challenge has been to offer ads in Gmail that are both useful and unobtrusive. The example that Google gives doesn’t sound like a tremendous improvement though.

In Google’s example, a user who receives a confirmation email from a hotel in Chicago might see advertising offering flights to Chicago, which is simple enough. The problem for Google has been that there are messages for which there is no relevant advertising. The company has resolved that the best way to tackle this will be to show advertising from the previous message. In this case,

“For example, let’s say you’re looking at a message from a friend wishing you a happy birthday. If there aren’t any good ads for birthdays, you might see the Chicago flight ads instead.”

It’s an interesting idea, but we’ll be curious to see how this effects those mails that contain subjects that cross Google’s threshold for advertising. There is a method whereby users can gauge exactly the right way of ensuring no more ads appear next to messages they send. The easiest is to make reference to bereavement or natural disasters throughout the message, though it can be a bit of a headache to manage…

Hopefully Google will have taken the time to ensure that previous mail’s ads aren’t thrown into these previously empty-with-good-reason messages. If we’re to take the example of flights to Chicago then we could well see a mail not having its own advertising because it openly discusses family members who dies on September 11th have flight advertising shuffled into it…

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