Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Ads infiltrate my GMail RSS feeds

Very clever Google.

I use GMail as my primary mail client and I can tell you I don't think I've clicked on an ad, or even noticed an ad for as long as I can recall. When you use an app like GMail, advertising is totally ineffectual because you just develop ad blindness as your eyes are trained to go where they need to go.

My eyes are trained on the other hand to quickly flick up to my Web Clips (that's the RSS posts that Google throws up onto your front page) in the hope that one of my favourite blogs has a new post that I might click over to.

Just now, however, for the first time that I've seen, I got fed a "sponsored link".

It did a pretty good job on the relevance side of things feeding me an ad for "Writing Opportunities. FreelanceWorkExchange.com – Freelance jobs for Writers…"

Yes, it annoyed me. I don't really want my RSS feeds punctuated with ads but it's not going to annoy me enough to persuade me to ditch GMail if its not done with too much frequency.

I do wonder how they're working out the relevence based on my Inbox though. If they're only using the text from my message headings that's surely going to throw up a ton of irrelevent ads. For example, based on my message headings you'd probably be serving me up lots of ads about squash equipment.

Whatever, the case Google has to solve the ad blindness problem and intermixing ads with Web Clips is a good way of doing it and they'd probably do well to extend the same idea to the right-hand column.

Filed under: Uncategorized

11 Responses

  1. You know, I got ads right away, and the rss feed thing didn’t integrate with Reader, so I just turned the whole stupid little bar off. Go to Settings >> Web Clips, and uncheck “Show My Web Clips”. Voila. I’m damn glad they still let you turn it off.

  2. Kenneth Jr says:

    Totally agree. Even when I didn’t use a Firefox extension to block the side ads, I found them very obscure. With the Web Clips device I never know what I am going to get so my mind is more attentive when an ad (usually relevant) does appear. It’s the idea of reinforcement all over again, the same reason people seem unable to stop playing the slot machine.

  3. Saul Weiner says:

    That’s the price we pay for a ‘free’ product. At least we can turn it off, I guess.

  4. Basu says:

    At least Google doesn’t stuff graphical ads down your throat like some other people we all know and love to hate.

  5. Caitlin says:

    I use Gmail for my work email client and I think the contextual ads are very effective. I’ve only had the account since January and I’m not sure that I’ve actually clicked on one though I may have but I certainly look at them. Some of it’s really interesting (but maybe that’s just because my mail is really interesting. LOL).

    It’s partly professional interest – I write about media so it’s important to see how this stuff works and who is advertising and how. But it’s partly personal – it comes up with some really interesting stuff like volunteer opportunities abroad, for example.

    Graphical ads on the other hand I do tune out as much as I can. I think the clever thing with the contextual ads is that they’re so targeted at least 90 per cent of the time.

    I’ve heard that contextual ads will soon be graphical as well as text based, which could be interesting. It may make me LESS likely to look at them and will give my Gmail client an unpleasant feeling of being cluttered.

  6. I’ve only gotten about 2 ads since using web clips, and I use it ALL the time.

    The side ads almost never interest me, despite the fact that as an adsense/adwords account holder I have a professional interest in them.

    I won’t stop using GMail because they mix ads in with my web clips – after all it’s easy enough to hit the right arrow and see the next RSS entry.

  7. Alejandro says:

    that’s why I don’t use Gmail. I bought a domain and I use that address with horde (which I think is the best webmail client ever made) and haven’t had a single spam in more than 3 months🙂

  8. Caitlin says:

    I still think the contextual ads in Gmail and other sites such as 43Things are effective … but I had a funny experience today when I had an email referencing someone with the honorific ‘Dr’ and the ads on the side started trying to sell me Doc Martens. I guess when the contextualising is done by robots, it won’t always be right.

  9. mb says:

    Here’s another example of a really effective Web Clip in Gmail.

    http://www.buygoogle.com/2006/01/really-effective-ads-in-web-clips.html

    When emailing a reservation to a hotel in Cairo, up pops this ad for Nile Cruises.

    I rarely even see the ads on the right side of the page, but the eyes are trained to watch the clips. And relevant ads like this actually enhance the experience.

  10. blaze says:

    I did see this and I was a little miffed they worked it in there also. But I bet they can sell it for good money though.

    There is however, some comfort in the fact that you can turn it off.

  11. lucianop19 says:

    Here are some links that I believe will be interested

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