Google has changed the location of advertising on its Gmail e-mail service, moving the paid listings from the side of messages to the bottom of the page.
Gmail, which is still in testing, now carries an ad unit with advertiser links underneath messages instead of on the right side. The sent-message page now contains ads, too. Previously, Gmail showed ad links only on the side of incoming e-mail messages. The ads and related pages are now displayed in a light-blue shaded box, while previously they were carried against a white background.
A Google spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.
The new feature works by scanning e-mail message threads for keywords to match with advertising. For example, Gmail displayed two sponsored listings for New York Yankees' tickets and merchandise below an e-mail exchange regarding a Yankees game.
“It's reasonable to assume Google will test a variety of implementations to see how they can balance the user experience and site monetization,” said Peter Hershberg, managing partner at Reprise Media, a New York search marketing firm.
Google has not said when it plans to publicly release Gmail, now available only through an invitation from current users. The Mountain View, CA, company does not report how many users Gmail has, but Nielsen//NetRatings reports that Gmail.com is already the No. 7 most-visited e-mail domain, drawing just under 1 million visitors in August.
Gmail represents a potentially large expansion of ad inventory for Google's 18-month-old AdSense content listings program. Google already displays paid listings across thousands of small Web sites and 60 of the 100 most-visited Internet sites. Earlier this month, it allowed publishers to display more paid listings on their pages and opened the program to users of its Blogger service.