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Thursday, Apr. 19, 2007 at 5:23 pm

Does Anyone Really Click on Sponsored Links in Gmail?

By Melissa Burdon
April 19th, 2007

My mom does! I don’t even pay attention to them, let alone click on them.

I set her up with a Gmail account over a year ago and she spends a good amount of time exchanging communications with friends, family and reading her newsletters. She also likes to read a few newsletters about self-motivation and self-improvement she’s signed-up for.

firstpage.jpgShe was visiting with me recently and asked for my assistance to get out of a survey site she was on. I asked

how she got there in the first place and she told me that, while she was reading a newsletter, she noticed the link above the window that asked, “Are you a slacker mom? Click here to find out.” Genius!

She clicks and gets sent to; three pages of questions in a survey format without any explanation at the beginning of what this survey is, how it might benefit the visitor, how long it will take, or what the visitor will be asked to provide in return (e.g., personal information).


My mom, being patient, clicks through and answers the questions anyway. Until…

She gets to the final part, where she’s asked for her email address and name. There’s no privacy copy here


reassuring her that her information is safe. My mom has one email address, therefore she can’t do what a lot of us are guilty of; just giving our Hotmail “spam email” address. My mom wanted to bail, but what’s even funnier is how frustrated she got by wanting to bail, not even knowing how to get back to Gmail because the back button wasn’t bringing her back!

So, yes… obviously, people are clicking on sponsored links in Gmail, but what you choose to do with these visitors after they click is what makes me scratch my head.

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Comments (14)

  1. internet marketers like to explore various avenues to find people interested in their products. best to use the “open in a new window” tab to leave where you are so you can get back.

  2. I feel your pain. I’ve got my mom on Gmail too. Marcia is right about opening in a new tab, but sometimes you have to explain to moms (and many, many others) about the value of the right-click.

  3. I’ve clicked on a few gmail sponsored links. My fav so far was I couldn’t resist!

    The really brilliant thing is the mixed rotation between “web clips,” aka RSS feeds, and sponsored links in that same space. So while I might sometimes see the latest Grok, I might other times see an add for putting flames on my kitchenAid mixer. I’ll say it again…brilliant.

  4. SearchCap: The Day In Search, April 20, 2007…

    Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web:……

  5. I think there are so many incorrect marketing methods like this on the internet. I know a few people that make a great living off of email campaigns and they are very legitimate with their offers and guess what…they are very successful. The market is so big that you don’t have to find everyone, just the right people. Bless your mom’s heart.

  6. I haven’t read the whole article,

    >> Does Anyone Really Click on Sponsored Links in Gmail?
    I did few times as it looked very relevant to what I was talking about or what I wanted that time.

  7. Honestly, I have had a Gmail account for over a year, but have not noticed the sponsored links to the right until recently. The larger the monitor, the more distance between your email message and the right-aligned sponsored links.

  8. Clicking sponsored link is one thing….but has anyone noticed that the sponsored link is very closely related to the contents of the mail you are checking….is it an indication that your mail is accesible to google for reading, and hence the so very related sponsored links !!!!! Wonder if everybody is facing the same thing….try and see!!!!

  9. Haha, its much like ads on the “phone and cellphone” netword option they give you on adwords. I cant see anyone clicking on an ad while on the phone browesing for something. Ok maybe yes clicking on it but converting it in a sale sounds too much.

  10. Shvetank, the reason why the sponsored links content is similar is that the program searches for related content while your email is being converted to readable website format from being just a pile of code mixed with attachemnts and everything else. It’s the program that reads your email to find related things not other people. Everything is computer generated on the web. Humans just program it, they don’t read every email and pick what’s related, that would be crazy.

  11. Sometimes I click the links, especially when the sponsor sounds funny. Most of time I did it because of curious with what they offer.

  12. never give out any personal details without knowing exactly who you’re sending them to

  13. The only time I have ever clicked on something that wasnt my email in a email account was breaking news. That is it, I think once you have seen ads everyday you get to were you tune them out rather easily.

  14. I usually do not make online surveys exactly because of that annoying part at the end. Maybe they think that their survey is so great noone would resist at the end to enter some personal info in order to see some results. :)

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Melissa is a Senior Persuasion Analyst at FutureNow.

More articles from Melissa Burdon

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