Google Shopping Ads on Gmail: What We Know So Far

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Just when you thought advertising on Google had reached its capacity, enter Shopping Ads on Gmail – the latest place for advertisers to reach potential customers. 

On February 6th, Google officially announced that they would be expanding standard Shopping ads to Gmail. With Gmail already being a significant part of an individual’s shopping journey used by over a billion people worldwide, this seems like a reasonably smart move. 

Furthermore, with the increasing rise of Shopping ads, the fastest growing advertising channel for online retailers today, it’s no surprise that Google wants to capitalise on this.

Shopping ads have become essential for eCommerce retailers over the years, representing 37% of total search spend share –  MarinOnes Q2 2019 report.

Despite concerns about advertisers maxing out their reach on mainstream platforms and the increased interest in alternate ad platforms, Google continues to find new places to show their ads. It’s clear that they are not ready to give up any advertising real estate just yet.

Soon your standard Shopping campaigns will be able to reach users on Gmail. All you have to do it is:

1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.

2. Under the Campaigns tab, click the Shopping campaign you would like to select.

3. Click the Settings tab.

4. Under “Networks”, look for “YouTube, Gmail and Discover”.

If this is ticked, your shopping ads are eligible to show on Gmail. And that’s it, you’re all set!

Gmail targeting

What we know:

  • Shopping ads to Gmail will be eligible from March 2020.
  • Both Product Shopping ads & Showcase Shopping ads are included under the new feature. 
  • Data will be reported under the Google Display Network.
  • Standard Shopping campaigns will be automatically enabled to run on Gmail, as long as the campaigns are opted into “YouTube, Gmail, and Discover.” – be aware of this if you don’t want your shopping ads appearing on Gmail. 

What we don’t know:

  • How Google will deliver the ads.
  • Which products will be selected and why.
  • Exactly where in Gmail the ads will be visible or how they will be formatted.
  • Most importantly, we don’t know how this might affect campaign performance.


There has been no indication of a previous study or beta being realised that would suggest higher click-through rates or conversion rates. So, whether or not the new feature will be successful is yet to be determined. 

Google combines data for YouTube, Gmail and Discover together under the Display Network, so there is no way of seeing how effective they are.

Depending on how they’re used, I’m a little sceptical that they will add much value and here’s why…

Firstly, the bulking of YouTube, Gmail and Discover together under the Display Network – I imagine most advertisers will find this frustrating, not just because we can’t separate the data to see how each option performs but because audiences on Gmail are not likely to be similar to those on Youtube or the discovery feed – their mentality is different.

Youtube users are predominantly looking at how-to videos or seeking entertainment whereas Googles Discover is a more news-based platform to discover and engage with articles targeted to that specific user. Gmail on the other hand, I would argue is a professional work-based platform more than not – do we really want to be bombarded with shopping ads when we’re trying to respond to client emails?

Furthermore, it’s no secret that people think adverts are becoming progressively more disruptive and email marketing is increasing too, particularly with the rise of mobile. 

91% of people think that ads are more intrusive, according to a study by Hubspot in 2016. 

Could Gmail shopping ads become lost or ignored amongst the noise? If so, click-through rates are likely to drop.

My concern is that we’re expanding reach whilst at risk of diluting the quality.

My advice: try to avoid higher funnel audiences. Instead, use it in your remarketing campaigns to reconnect with people who have shown interest in a particular product or service but left without making a purchase, similar to abandoned cart emails. 

What are your thoughts on Shopping Ads for Gmail and have you considered how this type of advertising could affect your business?

If it’s something that interests you then get in touch.

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