If you use Gmail in the browser, chances are you've seen Google's latest attempt at making a little extra money off of its users. In addition to those sidebar ads you may have learned to ignore by now, Gmail is dropping email-looking promotion ads onto the top of the Promotions tab in that brand new, fancy tabbed inbox they gave you. In case you haven't seen it (or if you just want to confirm we're talking about the same thing), those ads probably look something like this:
If you just want to get rid of these pesky new ads, skip to the "How to Get Rid of The Gmail Ads" section of this article below and I'll take care of you. If you're interested in my gues as to why Gmail did this, keep on reading on, my dear friend.
Why Did Gmail Do This?
Google isn't exactly known for their transparency so your guess is as good as mine, but I think Google has a couple reasons to switch to the tabbed inbox and create inline email ads. First I'll tackle why they added tabs to Gmail.
Mailbox and the transition of the email inbox as a task list
When the ever-popular Mailbox app hit, it changed how people think about email. Gone were the days of endless single-stream message lists piling up one on top of the other. Instead, email became categorized more intelligently, compartmentalized for the user. Gmail had tried something similar once befor with their Prioritized inbox, but most users never used it. Today desktop solutions like Inky and web apps like Mailstrom attempt to tackle the same concept, but when people leave browser based email for better email handling, they throw away Gmail's opportunity to earn money on ads in Gmail. I believe these new tabs are Google's way of keeping the inbox fresh, prioritized, and of course, monetized.
Banner Blindness and Revenue
When banner ads first launched in the mid-nineties the click through rate hovered around 2%. Today it's reasonable if 0.2% of the people who see an ad actually click on it. Why? Over the years, users became accustomed to sidebar banners and started ignoring them. This phenomenon is called banner blindness. Social networks started battling banner blindness by inserting ads directly into the social stream with relevant content, making it more difficult to filter out the advertisements. What could Gmail do that was similar? Put ads that look like directly in your line of sight. More prominent ads means more clicks, which in turn means more money for Google.
Genius really, except that it's our inboxes. I'm not opposed to giving up a little privacy and/or paying Google for the services they provide, but these ads feel like spam so I found a way to eradicate them.
How to Get Rid of Gmail Ads Once and For All
Ad Type 1: The New Inline Email Ads From Google
As far as I can tell, Google only places ads in the Promotions tab of the new tabbed inbox. As it turns out removing the inline email ads is as simple as removing the default Promotions tab Google added to your tabbed inbox. To do this:
1. Click on the + icon just to the right of your inbox tabs. A screen will pop up that looks like this:
2. Un-click Promotions in the "Select Tabs to Enable" portion of the modal/pop up window. You could leave it at that and probably never see an ad again, but if you, like me, enjoyed the three-tab layout and the way Gmail filtered out promotional emails, you can unselect "Promotions" and click on "Updates" instead. In my inbox these two tabs were pre-filtered with very similar content, so I simply switched out the two tabs and my inbox tabs filtered almost exactly the same as before.
(If your Promotions and Updates tabs do act completely differently, you can drag emails from one tab to another. Gmail claims it will get smarter so that similar emails are filtered that way in the future, so this should work.)
Tada - Now Share Your Secrets
I haven't seen an inline email ad since I removed the Promotions tab, so I believe this is the way to go. If you try this, let me know if you have the same experience. Or maybe you have a better alternative? Let me know in the comments. I'd love to hear what you're doing to tame your inbox ads.
Ad Type 2: Gmail's Sidebar Ads
Gmail's sidebar ads have been around for awhile, but if you decide you want to get rid of them, there are quite a few browser plugins you can use to do the job. If you use Firefox, Better Gmail 2 is jam packed with features like ad obliteration and more. If you're the Chrome type, Gmelius is the ultimate answer to your whoas. If you're using Internet Explorer, well, then you're probably not reading this post.
Do you know of any other extensions that remove ads or improve your Gmail experience? Feel free to chime in in the comments.