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How to Use Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP)

After a couple of years in Beta, Google opened GSP up to all advertisers back in February 2015. Over the past few years, here at WMG, we have been successfully running GSP campaigns for many clients within various industries. This article takes you through the basics of GSP, a unique ad type often overlooked by advertisers.


A Gmail ad is an ad which appears, initially, in its collapsed form at the top of people’s Gmail inboxes in the promotions tab. The ads only show in personal (non-business) Gmail accounts.

Gmail ad in its collapsed form (desktop)
Gmail ad in its collapsed form (desktop)

When clicked, the ad expands in the size of an email and it can include elements such as images, embedded forms or videos.

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Gmail ad in its expanded form (desktop)

The layout of the ads is automatically optimised by AdWords depending on whether they show on a computer, mobile device or the Gmail app, whereas mobile specific options such as app promotion and click-to-call are also available.

Gmail ad in its collapsed and expanded form (mobile)
Gmail ad in its collapsed and expanded form (mobile)

According to Google, Gmail ads can help an advertiser connect with their audience in a way that feels more personal as people can interact with the ads. The type of interaction varies depending on the ad’s layout and may include filling in a form, playing a video, clicking on the ad to call or simply visit the advertiser’s website or app.

The person who sees a Gmail ad also has the option of saving it or forwarding it to another person as an email, features not available in other ad formats.

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Forward option (desktop and mobile)

Advertisers are charged on a CPC basis and only one time i.e. for the first click on the teaser unit that expands the ad; once the ad has expanded the interaction with it does not result in additional charges.

Ad creation, ad types and ad component specs

gmail sponsored promotions 3 added as a managed placement

Once you have created an “All Features” Display campaign and an ad group within it you first need to add as a placement under the Display Network tab. added as a managed placement

You are given the choice of five different ad types, found under ‘Gmail ads’ in the Ad Gallery.

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The Gmail ad option in the Ad Gallery and the five ad formats
  • The Gmail image template – the most basic format, a single image which fills the entire body of the expanded ad and is ideal if the advertised product or service is very visual and does not require a lengthy description.
  • The recommended image size is 650 x [300–1000] pixels.
  • Gmail single promotion template – an image or video with some text (headline), this format can work well for products or services that are still quite visual but require some additional explanation to help increase the ad’s efficiency.
  • The recommended image size is [300 px to 650 px] x [200 px to 500 px] or for YouTube video link the video thumbnail size is 300 x 169 landscape.
  • Headline: up to 25 characters
  • Content: up to 1024 characters
  • Call-to-action button: up to 20 characters
  • Gmail multi-product template – an ad format great for e-commerce accounts, it features multiple images of the product, each with a title and a call-to-action button.
  • Image(s) (optional): 180 × 180, or YouTube video link (video thumbnail size is 180 x 180)
  • Title (optional): up to 40 characters
  • Call-to-action button: up to 20 characters
  • Call-to-action button URL: the landing page for the button
  • Catalogue creative – contains more descriptive text compared to the multi-product format, to create an ‘almost magazine-like experience’ with multiple call-to-action buttons.
  • Image(s) (upload): up to 650 × 300, or YouTube video link (video thumbnail size is 324 x 183)
  • Headline: up to 40 characters
  • Description: up to 1,024 characters
  • Call-to-action button: up to 20 characters
  • Call-to-action button URL: the landing page for the button

All templates have the same collapsed ad specs:

  • Logo (upload): up to 144 x 144 pixels.
  • Advertiser: up to 20 characters
  • Subject: up to 25 characters
  • Description: up to 100 characters
  • Display URL: up to 255 characters
  • Final or Destination URL: no character limit

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Collapsed ad components examples
  • Gmail custom HTML (not explained in depth in this article) – this option is more suitable for advanced advertisers who are looking for more flexibility in the creation of their Gmail ads. These ads can include embedded forms, video, phone numbers and multiple calls-to-action. More information about custom HTML GSP ads can be found here.



Prior to, or after, you have created your GSP ads, you need to add the secondary targeting criteria (with the primary criteria being the very basic budget, location, bids, ad scheduling etc.). Most of the criteria you use in your regular Display campaigns can be used in GSP campaigns, including the following:

  • Display keywords (contextual targeting).
  • Affinity audiences.
  • In-market audiences.
  • Customer match (list of email addresses).

For example, a children’s clothing advertiser can select keywords like ‘boy clothes’, ‘baby girl dresses’, ‘children swimwear’ etc., they can select topics such as ‘People & Society › Family & Relationships › Family › Parenting › Pregnancy & Maternity’ and ‘People & Society › Family & Relationships › Family › Parenting › Babies & Toddlers or/and in-market audiences like ‘In-market audiences (ROI) › Baby & Children’s Products’.

In addition to the above, advertisers can use the ‘domain targeting’ technique which is based on emails sent to people from particular websites. The above children’s clothing advertiser, for example, can choose to show ads to people who receive emails from specific parenting websites. As with the regular keyword targeting, in domain targeting the system scans the body and the subject of recent emails (excluding those marked as spam but including deleted and archived emails). This method is very often used by advertisers to target customers and people in the mailing list of direct competitors.



In addition to all other key metric AdWords gives advertisers the following three GSP-specific metrics:

  • Gmail saves
  • Gmail forwards
  • Gmail clicks to the website

These metrics can be found under ‘Gmail Metrics’ when you click on ‘modify columns…’ in the reporting interface of the platform.


GSP can be a cost-effective advertising tactic that can be used to target customers at every stage of the purchase journey but is particularly great for generating brand awareness and soft conversions such as sign ups, downloads, free trials etc. It can also produce relatively good results as a sales method given that if someone goes into the effort of clicking twice on an ad before landing on a website they are likely to be genuinely interested in the product, thus more likely to convert. Targeting, including layer targeting, is super important to ensure that your ads are reaching a highly relevant audience and your budget is efficiently spent. Finally, as with all things new in a PPC account, starting small and then scaling up and having realistic expectations are both highly recommended!