AT&T Stadium, aka Cowboy Stadium, in Dallas, Texas is one of the largest stadiums in the entire world. With a maximum capacity of around 105,000, it is a truly a remarkable sight.1 To connect with such a large audience, the Cowboys installed a new video board – a video board that stretches across opposing 20 yard lines and cost more than the original cost of building Texas Stadium.2

Now imagine a stadium 10,000 times larger than AT&T Stadium. A stadium that held over one billion people. If all else remained equal, the estimated cost of a screen large enough for this audience would exceed $400+ billion! Logistically, a stadium of this size is simply improbable and justifying the cost to build is impossible. However, billions of consumers do conjugate at the same location daily — on the internet! In fact, there is one effective channel that allows you to target over one billion active monthly users, all for less than a quarter per click.3

[bctt tweet=”How to Target Billions of Consumers With Less Than A Quarter” username=”@jandlmarketing”]

You’ve Got (G)Mail!

Originally, Gmail ads were known by another name: Gmail Sponsored Promotions. These Gmail Sponsored Promotions, or GSP for short, were released from Beta to all advertisers in March of 2015.4 Initially, the GSPs were visible within an opened Gmail message along the right-hand side of the page. However, in September 2015, native Gmail ads were available for all advertisers.5 The main difference between the two, is now the Gmail ads appear as a native message at the top of an inbox every time the interface is opened. The impressions come at no cost, and the advertisers are only charged when the ads are clicked.

Last February, Google announced that Gmail now has more than one billion active monthly users. Additionally, 75% of Gmail users access their accounts on mobile devices.

We know that over a billion consumers are active on Gmail and that a large majority of them are accessing their accounts on mobile phones, but how can we connect with them?  Digital advertising —Specifically, in the form of Gmail ads, served across the Google AdWords Display Network.

We can finely tune our target audience and customize our ad messaging, all while paying on average less than $0.25 per click! In the hyper-competitive digital landscape, it is crucial for advertisers to maximize their return-on-ad-spend. Gmail ads provide a cost-effective solution and have proven to produce exceptional results.


*Actual screenshot from Google AdWords. There are 1B – 1.5 B impressions available weekly when targeting gmail ( nationwide.

Trimming the Fat – Fine Tuning Your Audience

As with most any digital advertising capability, the ability to slice and dice audience targeting is a driving force behind the campaign’s success. There are a variety of targeting options available for advertisers utilizing this powerful capability. These options include: keywords, topics, in-market & affinity audiences, demographics, and customer lists.

So, you could target consumers by a keyword. If this keyword appeared somewhere throughout their inbox in the last 30-60 days, then they would be eligible to target. Maybe you want to target consumers that fall into a topic category. You can target specific vehicles, even down to the make. Or maybe you want to focus on maintenance, parts, and accessories – well you have that option too. The point is: proper strategy is necessary to create the most impactful targeting list.

Another powerful segmentation capability is targeting users who have been identified as “in-market” for a specific product or service.  There are a variety of in-market audiences to choose from, ranging from ‘Apparel & Accessories’ all the way to ‘Travel.’ In total, there are 19 major categories, and 497 minor categories of in-market audiences to choose from.  Additionally, you have the ability to target a broader segment of users, known as an “affinity audience.” These audiences are like TV-style audiences and are designed to help connect advertisers with their ideal customers at a larger scale. Affinity audiences range from ‘Auto Enthusiasts’ to ‘Travel Buffs’.

With the ability to demographically target, you could zoom in on specific criteria. You have the ability to only serve your ads to a gender, age range, or parental status.  The demographic targeting capabilities aren’t nearly as robust as Facebook, but you still have a little control in this aspect.

One of the largest benefits in my opinion, is the ability to target customers from an audience list. With Google AdWords, you can upload a list of customer email addresses, match them against their Google accounts, and then serve ads specifically to those users as they browse Gmail. This method will allow you to serve ads to a specific niche audience, which should (in theory) produce a better response.

How to Win with Gmail Ads

So, we talked about the impressive reach of the Gmail audience and reviewed the targeting options that allow advertisers to zoom-in on perspective audiences, but let’s talk about how to leverage this platform to formulate a winning strategy. Obviously, we wouldn’t want to serve our ads to evey active Gmail user, as that wouldn’t be the most effective use of our precious advertising dollars. Let’s examine a real-life example and application.

Let’s assume that you are a General Manager of a Honda dealership, and you have an upcoming sales event that you would like to promote. Well you have a variety of different options that would allow you to hone in on our target market.

For starters, you might only want to serve your ads within your primary market areas. You could take the relevant zip codes and geographically target the ads to only be shown within those regions. However, your audience is still too large, as not all Gmail users in the geo-targeted regions are necessarily in-market to purchase a vehicle.

You could also layer in consumers who might be in-market for a specific model or type of vehicle. Because you represent a Honda dealership, targeting consumers who are in the market for a Honda would absolutely make sense. Additionally, you might target consumers in-market for new vehicles (or used depending on the event), or consumers in-market for crossovers, SUVs, sedans, pickup trucks, and minivans.

Lastly, you could utilize the power of customer lists. Let’s assume you have a list of 5,000 customers that are in the market to buy a new vehicle. You could take that list, load it into Google AdWords, and only serve that specific audience the ads. The more granular and targeted you make your audiences, the better results you will see in the end.

Take Advantage Before It’s Too Late

With the explosive growth of digital advertising over the last decade and the fact that digital ad spend recently surpassed TV ad spend, there is no sign of the momentum slowing down.6 New digital agencies and advertisers are popping up every single day, and as more advertisers enter the market, we can fully anticipate the cost of advertising to continually increase. Gmail ads are special, not only because of the powerful targeting capabilities, but also because there are fewer (if any) more cost-effective options still available. As world-renowned digital marketing guru Larry Kim might suggest, Gmail is a unicorn in a world full of donkeys.7

So, the next time you attend or are watching a sporting event on TV, imagine having the ability to target everyone in that building for less than the cost of your daily newspaper. Thanks to Gmail ads, you can.