During my speech on "5 Biggest Challenges for Online Sub Marketers" at our Summit in NYC last week, I told everyone to worry about Google's Gmail.
Because Google is going to insert paid third-party ads into incoming mail for users. Which makes sense -- it pays the bills for that hefty one gig of mailbox-space Google will offer to lure users from Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.
If you're a marketer or publisher sending mail, this means Google's going to stick ads on the campaigns and newsletters you send. It may distract from your message, and certainly could hurt your click rates because more options spit clicks.
Plus -- this is the scary part -- an ad from your direct competitor could be displayed beside your email to your list.
Google probably won't allow marketers to target email ads by sender or recipient, but they probably will allow ad buyers to target by keyword/key term. And, no they're not protecting trademark now for search ads, so there's no reason to assume they'll protect it in email.
To sum up: your competitors may be able to put ads inside of all emailed messages Gmail users get that contain your company or brand name.
Our MarketingSherpa Editor Janet Roberts called me today with a tiny bit of silver lining to help emailers cope with the Gmail cloud.
Turns out that other email services - including Yahoo and Terra Lycos - are starting to take a competitive stance against Google's incursion by making their mailbox sizes bigger too. This is a complete reversal of the trend of the past two years with boxes becoming so tiny that loads of email bounced.
So, your bounce rates to live active accounts will probably be lower, especially over holiday and vacation-times when folks don't clean out boxes as often.
Of course your message or offer has to be ultra-compelling to make it past fast-delete when they get back to their computers. But, you already knew that.
Useful link -- Janet has posted a screenshot of what an incoming message looks like in Gmail for you. She asked me to note that since Gmail is in beta, the format may change considerably when Google actually rolls it out: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/images/gmail.jpg
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