Ads in Gmail

OK, it's a single ad. And it's semi-relevant to my interests.

I am not outraged. I am not upset. In fact, there's a good chance that had we not received so many emails from folks wondering just who the hell Google thought it was, violating the sanctity of our inboxes with a sponsored email from Delta — an advertisement! — that I might not have even noticed.

But there it is, among all the other crap in my "Promotions" tab. An offer for an "Economy Comfort Upgrade" — or, rather, an offer to pay for one — on a Delta flight.

This should bother the hell out of me. It's my inbox. It's a mess, even on a good day. And I don't want anythinking clunking it up more than it already is.

So why am I OK with this?

What's one more piece of junk amongst the garbage that is my inbox?

It's probably mostly apathy on my part. The Promotions tab does a pretty good job of garbage collection. So what's one more piece of junk amongst the trash? (And to be clear, this ad is doubly useless for me, since my frequent flyer status on Delta gets me Economy Comfort upgrades automatically and for free anyway.) If I don't want to see it, I just swipe it away and archive the sucker.

And it's not even there all the time anyway. I didn't actually do anything with the "ad" when it first appeared. Now it's nowhere to be seen. ... Oh, wait. It's back. Fine.

Still doesn't bother me.

Or maybe it's because after a decade and a half in the publishing business I understand the necessary evil of advertising. So maybe I'm giving Google and Delta a pass because of that. Or maybe because it's an ad that's at least in the ballpark of being relevant to my interests (I fly a good bit for this job), and that's what Google's truly striving to do.

Part of me wants to be upset. That part of me isn't as busy as the rest, though.

That's not to say there's not that little voice in the back of my head screaming "HOW ARE YOU OK WITH THIS?!?!?" (And for the record, that voice often still sounds like this guy.) Because the rational side of me knows better. It is my inbox. It is my email headspace that Delta and Google are invading with their spammy spam advertisement.

And for as much as I'm paying to use that free Gmail account they damn well better resp— erm, right. That Gmail account was free.

So maybe that's the price we'll have to pay for what arguably (and I don't think you have to argue all that hard) is the best email experience available. Maybe it won't grow past this one experiment. Maybe we'll just have to swallow just a tad of our nerd pride and deal with it. I, for one, won't lose any sleep over it. Even if I'm not in Economy Comfort.

 
There are 102 comments

nevetsca says:

Nice editorial. But I agree.

Posted from Germany via Android Central App on my Moto X.

It's worth mentioning, too, that if you don't have the promotions tab, you don't see the ads.

gravage says:

I'm not even sure why people enable it, since it's just spam. Still, I figure it's only a matter of time before Google forces the tabs on us at which time I'll switch back to Live mail.

jdevenberg says:

All the things in the promotions tab are ads I signed up for. I frequently use the emails and offers I get in my promotions tab, I just don't want them cluttering up the rest of my inbox. And you will really switch back to a clearly inferior mail service just because Google wants to monitize a service they give you for free?

gravage says:

See, I used to think that way, too. But then I realized that I was getting UNWANTED ads in there and I couldn't even add them to spam, because they were from Google. I also didn't like the cluttered way you had to browse the tabs on mobile.

Every single email I get is important to me. If it's in my inbox, I read it, so I don't need it to be sorted to some other tab to deal with later. And now I don't have to deal with tabs or Google's spam.

As for monetization: You are aware that they have been mining our data for ads since the beginning, right? And long before they were sticking "promotions" in our inbox, they were making plenty of money. So this is not necessary for their business model at all. Live is hardly inferior. In fact, in some ways it's better than Gmail.

jdevenberg says:

I used Live for years, and I cannot think of a single way it is better than Ggail, but I'm not everyone. My biggest problem with Live though is its spam filter. It is terrible compared to Gmail's. Live will regularly send emails I want to see to the spam folder (which I do not check often). Some of these emails are things that land in my promotional tab in Gmail, but others are things that land in my primary tab in Gmail and are genuinely important to me, but Live marks as spam, so I don't see them for up to a week. That makes Live unusable to me.

Yes I'm aware that Google has been mining our data since the beginning for ads. If Gmail hadn't improved since its launch, I'd have a problem with them introducing new ads. However, Gmail is a much better product/service today than when it launched, so I'm okay with them adding sponsored ads into my tab that is comprised entirely of ads anyway. Personally, I don't need every ad email I get, so I don't read all of them I get. For example, I'm on Grand Street's mailing list. I don't always have the spare money to blow on random cool things I don't need. When I don't have the money, I archive those emails without even opening them. However, when I do have some extra spending money, I will read my Grand Street (and Newegg and other similar sites) emails to see if they have anything that interests me. Again, I'm not everyone, but the promotional tab works well for me.

abbott says:

You can set up gmail as a POP or IMAP account in the AOSP email app and wallah, no more ads.

mwara244 says:

Some of the sites I order from don't go in my inbox and straight to my promotional tab. Took me a while to realize that and thought I wasn't getting confirm emails.

machzk says:

I enabled it, because my bank relentlessly sends me promotions, that I am usually not interested in. There are times when I do find interesting things though. So I don't want notifications for those types of messages, neither do I want them for forum updates etc and as such I like the tabbed interface of Gmail. Notifications for primary email.

In the spirit of the Phil´s article, the ad did catch my attention, but I wasn´t bothered really.

y2whisper says:

Which makes google doing this even less of an issue. Its non intrusive and its one freakin email from time to time. The cost of free awesome software.

MERCDROID says:

I actually really like the Promotions tab. Quite a few of the ads I have received have saved me some serious cash on things that I buy anyway.

Ah.. I am in the clear for now. I probably wouldn't even notice the ad, just swipe it away like all the other junk.

Saturn1217 says:

Yeah, I finally saw one too after not getting ads for ages. I think Google made a brilliant move creating the tabs (although I wish you could create your own empty tab and put only what you choose in it). As long as the ads stay in promotions and don't become excessive (I've only ever gotten the one ad as opposed to hundreds of daily ads from other companys) I really don't find it that bad. Basically of all the reasons to get annoyed with Google this probably isn't one of them.

Posted via Android Central App

Cory S says:

Yeah doesn't bother me. It's not like logging into yahoo mail or something. I almost never pay attention to anything in promotions tab anyway.

codemonkey85 says:

I'm not sure if I'm personally okay with ads in my inbox, especially considering the lengths to which I've gone to keep it clean. But on the other hand, I understand as well as you do that this is Google's business model, and they've given me a lot of stuff for free, so... who am I to complain?

mvp4him3 says:

I still have yet to get my first ad.... You guys said it is promotion box only?

Posted via my DROID MAXX

one80oneday says:

Don't care if it's there but put it at the bottom out of the way

makapav says:

What's the point of the ad then?

Sonicaholic says:

I deleted my promotions tab and just have priority, inbox, spam, guess where every newsletter add or promotion goes!

ZOMBIE-PAPA says:

i agree completely. internet folk need to stop this borderline behaviour, you get it for free so stop bitching

NickA says:

I'm so tired of the "it's free" argument. We didn't tell Google to make Gmail free, they decided that on their own. They scan your email as it is to come up with relavent ads, so why put them in my inbox now?

neonworm says:

But you don't HAVE to use Gmail.

MERCDROID says:

This!

makapav says:

You can buy a Google Apps account for yourself. There are no ads there.

TheDu9du says:

also NickA could just move to cave where Ads won't hit him.

CellGuy says:

And Google didnt tell you to use there service...Choice is a wonderful thing.

nikon120 says:

We actually do pay for Google services by providing them our data for them to data mine. Their ToS allow them to profit from our data. Plain and simple.

Actual monetarily paid Google accounts are simply paying for higher tiers of service.

rlhammon says:

I don't use the tabs at all... and I manage my inbox through filters to auto label, and then through a few scripts to auto archive by label or auto delete by label. Keeps my inbox nice and tidy. I haven't see these ads, and I'll continue to not use the tabs then if they are dumping ads.

Same procedure I use. Ads do not bother me either, even if I had to see them.

brendilon says:

Filters take time to set up, tabs don't.

Posted via Android Central App

dan1431 says:

For free, the right to complain goes away or almost away, but what about paid accounts?

Google does offer paid Gmail accounts for businesses and other organizations, what about them? Are they seeing ads?

I do not use Gmail for many reasons not the least of which I maintain my own email server from way back in the day when my Geek side thought it would be fun to do, but partly because I dislike change and am happy living in my 1990's bubble.

I have no issues with Ads though in my years of life I cannot think of a single time where an Ad caused me to purchase something. Now, I just look beyond ads as they are everywhere and I am numb to them, most times not even noticing they are there.

Not sure if it says more about me or the Advertisers.

Dan

Posted via Android Central App

brendilon says:

Paid accounts don't see ads.

Posted via Android Central App

cowboys2000 says:

I have Uverse and use the Yahoo Mail APP. The first item listed in my inbox is a ad.

I have an outlook.com email and as much as they talk about being scroogoogled....the majority of the email hitting that account is spam. And more than I get in my Yahoo Account

brendilon says:

The outlook spam filter is awful. Yahoo seems to be a magnet for spam. In all the time I've used Google chat, I've never gotten a spam message. When I used to use Yahoo chat it was a constant thing.

Posted via Android Central App

Nvidiafanboy says:

I'm not ok with this at all because I am a very organized person and have a perfectly clean inbox. This looks like junk mail that I can't remove. Plus its close enough to spam yet it isn't just displaying it in the spam folder. Its like Google saying they don't have to abide by their own rules and bypassing the spam filter by just making it an ad. No thanks I'll just use a 3rd party inbox to get my gmail then.

Posted via Android Central App

brendilon says:

You can swipe it away and it is gone. Just like any email.

Posted via Android Central App

hmmm says:

I quit using gmail the day that happens to me. I get shown enough ads in enough other places by google. The wonderful thing is the alternatives are pretty much just as good. The only reason I use a gmail account is because it is integrated so much with Android so it's one less step for me. I would never click an ad for any reason. If I could tell the ad companies to stop wasting revenue on me I would.

Edit- I mean the day they go to my inbox...I don't care if ads go to a tab that is designed for them. I don't use tabbed emailing. It's as confusion and cluttered as conversation list email. I like my emails in a nice easy to read list.

I also wouldn't care as much if Google was the reason I made an income which is why I would expect most Android forums to welcome them.

makapav says:

This is a non-issue. People need to focus on real issues. Like paying $100 a month for cable and still having ad slots that are getting longer every few years. Or watching ads and still paying for Cable.

I pay $100 for 60 hours of TV watching a month. On average, 1 hour of popular programming has 15 minutes of ads. That's an ad every 4 emails. For a paid service.

So people get your panties in a bunch with perspective.

wyldkytten says:

That has nothing to do with the cable provider.

planoman says:

Dude get a DVR. Who watches live tv anymore...lol!

TheDu9du says:

Phil, I see you're using a GS5 now. Is it better than the M8?

jomcty says:

Well, I didn't like it one damn bit and it wouldn't allow me to delete it, unless I "viewed" it; which just caused a different ad to be displayed.

We all use Google services a lot and I believe they get their eyeballs worth from our use of Google search on the PC. I DON'T want to see it on MY phone. We get advertized to enough (too much IMO) in our daily lives, I do not want MY phone used as another vehicle receiving ADS.

GMail now, (I'm pretty sure I've see some ads in Maps, pretty soon the launcher home screen.

This may backfire on them and they find people going back to dumb phones. I have a Nokia C2 just waiting...

brendilon says:

Sounds like you don't know how to delete an email. I deleted mine and it went away. No second email.

Posted via Android Central App

jomcty says:

Have you considered your settings differ from mine? Turn off "Swipe to Archive" and try again.

Anyway, thanks for playing.

As long as I can pay £1 a year to remove them I'm happy still

Posted via Android Central App

col_krismiss says:

I don't think you guys have ever had a problem with any single thing Google has ever done. There are so many articles about "here is a Shitty thing and here is why you shouldn't care" I love this site but all you do is agree with the big companies and never question anything. Makes me sad

Posted via Android Central App

stanlm2 says:

+1, I think its on purpose, along with saying every flagship phone is the 'best android phone' when it launches. not complaining.. still fun to read. but how about articles of conflicting opinions.. get someone who doesn't like the kitkat sd card changes to write an article?

brendilon says:

Do you not remember the bitchfest over Reader?

Maybe the reason Phile thinks this is KO big deal is because... It's actually not a big deal.

Posted via Android Central App

John Grabb says:

The reason you don't care is obvious to most of us. You are a Google/Android fan boy. None of you care how insidiously inefficient android is with security for instance why would you care about spam ads infesting your Gmail by google? By the way "free" is not a good reason. LOL

CellGuy says:

Funny you say that. I just recently went through a Security + class to get my certifications. Professor let out all the dirty secrets of Apple/IOS so called more secure platform....ha. Ya not anymore secure than Android there big guy.

erwaso says:

Don't feed the trolls lol

Posted via Android Central App

ACADM says:

Free is such a bullshit argument; you may not be paying in an actual monetary currency, but you are paying in a way that is much more valuable to Google, with your private information.

Posted via Android Central App

brendilon says:

Do you have a point here?

Posted via Android Central App

jackwagon06 says:

YA-HOOOOOOO-OOOOOO! Love them ads.....

erwaso says:

In my free Gmail inbox, easily deleted. In the Android Central forums on my desktop using Chrome? Hate it. There's a friggin ad on every page between posts. I keep clicking "irrelevant" because I don't need call blocking or a business T1.

Posted via Android Central App

John Grabb says:

Cell guy, yeah but IOS and Android aren't the only platforms are they? LOL

brendilon says:

They're the only ones that matter. BB is a corpse and W8 was DOA.

Posted via Android Central App

fuzzylumpkin says:

Ad's can be annoying when presented badly, but this doesn't bother me.

Probably because from the start I've never viewed services like gmail or Facebook as free, but as things which are paid for by seeing ad's and providing metrics.

People should remember with these things, especially Facebook, that they're not the consumer. They're the product.

Posted via Android Central App

brendilon says:

Most intelligent comment here.

Posted via Android Central App

travaz says:

I like the Promotions tab. Many of the emails are things I signed up for like Groupon and such. I like being able to go there at my liesure and looking at them. The ad on top of my inbox? Who cares? I don't plus you can just dismiss it it you like.

deeb215 says:

Google Now ads are on the way.

ACADM says:

That would piss me off as it'd be far more intrusive than an ad in an already ugly email client.

Posted via Android Central App

planoman says:

This...it is just the beginning. No, I do not want ads in my inbox. I have not seen one yet but would pay not to see that stuff. I just stopped forwarding my yahoo email to google after years of doing it. Using gmail directly now. Luckily I have a me.com and outlook.com email addresses too if needed.

bigkevbosky says:

It's because you're a Google apologist. If they took a dump on your dining room table, you'd say "yum".

icebike says:

Was going to post basically the same sentiment, using somewhat more palatable language.

Phil and most of the people posting here are fully committed to Google, and give them a pass for every transgression.

They all trot out the fiction that you weren't forced to use Google.

The truth is that you can't own an android phone without using Google. You just can't.

lmao. You guys crack me up.

wyldkytten says:

It's true though. You can't even review paid for apps without being forced to have a G+ account. Is that really right? Can't use the free argument there.

brendilon says:

Yeah you can. You just can. And it works just fine. Much better than trying to own an iPhone without an iTunes account.

Posted via Android Central App

bergeronjc says:

It is a fan site though. Why would a fan site be negative to that which it is dedicated to?

Posted via Android Central App

biggbrother2 says:

Is this news because it's 'new to mobile'? Because I have been seeing sponsored ad e-mails at the top of of my promotions inbox on the web version of Gmail for months now.

ACADM says:

I try to avoid the web based GMail service as much as possible; it's horrendous.

Posted via Android Central App

bergeronjc says:

Amen to that. The computer browser Gmail is unintuitive and gets worse with every change they do.

Posted via Android Central App

Dizfunctions says:

Idc about ads. It allows a great service to be free.

Posted via Android Central App

jdh10475 says:

Isn't this in direct conflict with all the tools Google has built to stop spam. Oh I get it its OK if Google spams me. "Scratching head"

dflores says:

I'm with you, Phil. I will say, however, that the 3 second ad on my Panasonic TVs pisses me off every time I turn on the damn things. Why? Because I like $3k for each of them. A tiny ad on Gmail is a small price to pay for their stellar, free service.

Mariusz Ty says:

Promotions are reserved for newsletters and other services I signed up for. I don't need Google to tell me what I like and I don't want to see any advertisements in my email. I choose gmail to get away form ads within my email. It seems that Google slowly is leaning to the evil side...

For the advertisements and the like I already have designated folder - its called SPAM. I don't need another one one...!!!

ScoutBaker says:

Not sure why this seems so new. I've been getting these in the promotions tab for months.

Posted via Android Central App

Riboflavin says:

Go SMS Pro has been putting ads in my txt inbox and it is super annoying. I wish they would stop because they way they are doing it is way too intrusive.

brendilon says:

Go sucks. They spammed the hell out of me, all I wanted was a friggin keyboard.

Posted via Android Central App

bergeronjc says:

Unwanted email is SPAM no matter how you try to spin it as an innocuous ad.

I believe their are federal laws against SPAM.

Posted via Android Central App

brendilon says:

Check your TOS numbnuts.
Posted via Android Central App

crxssi says:

>"What's one more piece of junk amongst the garbage that is my inbox?"

Because, believe it or not, some of us don't have ANY garbage going into our inboxes because we use Gmail only for emergency, non-primary, or special uses. So *ANY* ads would be greatly noticed and unappreciated. Google makes plenty enough money without spamming our Gmail... There should be an opt out. Period.

asd216 says:

I have to agree with you on this. I don't mind marketing emails from Google play or a service I use a lot but ads I'm not worried about. To even use Android efficiently you NEED a gmail account. So it's not like I decided to use it just because.

Before Android I had a BlackBerry like many, and used their email service along side yahoo. So when I came to Android I was forced to use gmail.

asd216 says:

What makes an email service bad? I don't understand why people argue about it. I've heard people say it's the best and some say it's the worst they've ever used. Email is email, no matter what service it is.

brendilon says:

Some email service an have better spam filters, some use or don't use threaded messaging, features, integration with other services, etc.

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Losser

Posted via Android Central App

Irony is when you spell "loser" incorrectly.

jlongrc says:

Outlook.com has very much put itself in the conversation for best web email experience. I'm really fond of it.

wyldkytten says:

Yeah I love outlook.com. I wish we could choose what email to have for our Android accounts instead of being forced into Gmail.

When a person buys an Android phone they are forced into a Gmail account and those people at the very least shouldn't be bombarded by ads because Google doesn't provide the phone for free.

lightyear420 says:

I'll tell you why I don't care....adaway, baby!!

Synycalwon says:

Haha! +1 Same here. :) Makes for a much better user experience all around; no ad clutter anywhere for a cleaner interface and apps and webpages load/operate faster.

I too understand the need to provide ads to fund the wonderful machine which is Gmail. At the same time though, I believe that if I opt to *pay* Google a yearly fee for extended storage, that should cover and remove the need to show me ads. Back when we all received TV for free over the air, providers had the perfect excuse to display commercials. Now that most of us are paying for this content via cable and satellite, why are we still seeing commercials? I mean - we're *paying* to watch TV now! Enough with the ads.

brendilon says:

1. Added storage doesn't cover no ads. A business or other paid account does cover no ads. Different services, different features.
2. Just because you are foolish enough to pay for TV doesn't mean everyone is. Many people have cut the cable cord.

Posted via Android Central App

wyldkytten says:

TV is different though. You are paying someone to deliver networks to your house, you aren't paying the networks themselves. The ads are what pays the networks bills.

Mikes2nd says:

You do care, you are just being the queen of denial... Outlook is the higher ground now... and Microsoft?!...

You get paid to search and don't have ads crawling all over you. I get free Hulu and paid phone apps for making searches, my email experience is better than Google. The search is the same now, Bing maps is only very slightly behind Google(birds eye view vs streetview, and I prefer birds eye).

A lot of the google fanbois say the same thing lately in denial "but its free, Google has to make money somehow!"... I just smile. Meanwhile you guys edge closer an closer to yahoo levels of annoyance.

brendilon says:

Speaking of yahoos...

Posted via Android Central App

nasellok says:

Agree 1,000,000,000,000,000% Outlook is far superior - the rules, the mail management, etc. Not to mention the ability to link contacts, set up alias accounts, and the ability to forward my Gmail to my account flawlessly. Oh yea, Microsoft essentiall pays me for doing general searches within Bing, I can redeem bing points for paid apps on both Windows 8.1 app store, and Windows Phone app store. Been rocking the Nokia Lumia Icon after 5 years of android, and couldn't be happier these days.

A2theC says:

So it's spam, what else is new, at least it's relevant spam. Just like our wonder-Google to give something to us we appreciate that actually is screwing us over and makes them money, happily handing it over.

To each his own, but I will never fully understand how someone can be comfortable with Google scrubbing their personal data and selling access to you to advertisers. If USPS did the same with our snail mail we'd be livid.

We're a sucker for free stuff, I guess.

xchange says:

OK I'll buy your argument that it's a small price to pay for a great email service, BUT not that ads in email services are "ok" whether they're relevant or not. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I still see email as being something sacrosanct when it comes to ads, and I feel the proper place for ads is on website pages. At least they allow disabling by getting rid of the promo tab though, that's acceptable to me.

Sunofabob says:

Still no mark all as read option like yahoo mail app.

AC App via Nexus 5

SPS828 says:

I've never received any ads in Gmail ever.

Posted from my fast, furious, better than an iPhone, Moto G GPe