When Google rolled out the new Gmail inbox in May, it didn’t just give you a better way to manage your email — it also gave itself another way to serve you advertisements.
Gmail users are seeing unsolicited advertisement messages in the “Promotions” tab of the new Gmail inbox. The messages, which are highlighted with the same yellow as Google’s search ads, are joined by a message explaining where they come from: “These ads are based on information from your Google account. Ads Settings puts you in control of the ads you see,” Google says.
Unsolicited e-mail in your inbox that try to sell you products and deals that you didn’t ask for? Sounds like spam to me.
Google, however, explains it differently, and it even goes as far to refute the idea that the messages are e-mail at all. As far as I understand it, the idea behind putting the sponsored messages in the “Promotions” tab is that when Gmail users click the tab, they’re already looking for deals and promotions. Google, then, is simply piggybacking off that intent.
Here’s how Google explained the changes in a statement e-mailed to VentureBeat a short while ago:
Instead of ads always appearing at the top of your inbox, they’ve been relegated to a more appropriate place in your Promotions category. In addition, we’ve raised the quality of these ads and won’t show you an ad unless it’s relevant — which means you may sometimes see no ads at all in your Promotions tab. You can also dismiss the ads you see in your Promotions tab by clicking the “X” button on the right-hand side.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the messages only appear to Gmail users who are using the new inbox, which means that users still stubbornly clinging onto the old Gmail inbox are still immune to the promotions.