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Google test new ad formats in Gmail and launch hi res zoom in Google+

By 25 January, 2013
  • Thinking

With Facebook taking all the glory in the blogosphere with their rampage of new ad formats in the run up to Christmas, it’s great to see Google getting back in on the action.  A few things have been happening so without further ado let’s get started

Google+ gets an update

First up is a small but great new feature in Google+.  Yesterday Dave Cohen from Google posted about their new pan and zoom feature.  It’s currently only available on the Desktop version of Google+, and it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before on other websites, but it’s a very welcome addition to Google+

To use this new tool simply click on a picture and then use your mouse wheel to zoom in and out.  You can then click and drag to pan up, down left and right.  Dave posted a great picture to try this out.  You can see it here

Judging from the comments, and the number of them, this new feature has been well received.  It also gave Dave another excuse to show off Google’s recently launched ability to backup full-sized high res pictures from Android phones, which keeps them in line with Facebook’s ability to do the same from iOS devices.

This might seem like a small thing, but if Google keep adding features like this it’s only going to encourage more and more people to use the service and it’s great to see them innovating as well as copying Facebook.

New ad formats are being tested in Gmail.

Speaking of innovation, I’ve noticed a few new ad formats appearing and then disappearing in Gmail.  In December I noticed image ads making a fleeting visit. To be honest I didn’t like them.  This is because they were a little disconcerting.

Due to the contextual way in which these image ads were served, it was almost like my email was being illustrated by the advertising.  All a little bit odd really.  We have come to expect this from a web page, but with email being so much more sensitive I didn’t like it very much. Especially in Gmail which I use very differently from Facebook messages.

Much more innovative

More interesting to me is the other new format which is much more innovative. The user sees a standard text ad at the top of screen, but instead of being taken to another webpage when clicking on it they’re taken to an email.

There is also some text explaining what is going on:

“What’s this? It’s a new type of as you can save to your inbox or forward on.  If you dismiss this ad, you won’t see it again”

Mmmmm now this is much more interesting.  Normally I’m in my email doing something specific, so even if I click on an ad it ends up being more of a branding thing for the advertiser. Ie. I might look and be distracted for a few moments, but I’m pretty unlikely to take the time to buy anything because I’ve got other stuff to do.

This is very different though. If I like what I see I can save the email for later, I am much more likely to come back for another look later due to the easy to use mechanism built into the ad format.

Let’s also remember that I can forward the ad straight onto a friend.  Not only does this give the ad a truly viral nature, it could also be feeding Google’s Open Graph with some very juicy data about my response to the ad, my friend and/or my relationship with my friend.

Not that long ago all this would have been a bit far-fetched, but with all the Google products so inextricably linked these days I feel that this is a really interesting development.  So what do you think?  Am I causing a storm in a tea cup or is Google preparing to deliver something really useful here? Let us know in the comments below.


James Lawson, Consultant