Google is pushing inline ads on Gmail

Martin Brinkmann
May 6, 2023
Updated • May 7, 2023

Some Gmail users are now seeing ads in the middle of their inboxes on the Gmail website. Google has a long track record of displaying advertisement on Gmail. It is not uncommon for free services to finance themselves through ads.

Up until now, Google displayed advertisement at the top of a user's inbox in the Promotions and Social categories on the site. Google introduced these custom categories, along with Forums and Updates, in 2013.

Now, some Gmail users are seeing inline ads as well when they use the web interface. The screenshot below shows the Promotions category and two inline ads displayed near the top, but below actual emails received by the account.

gmail inline ads

The advertisement is barely distinguishable from legitimate emails. Only the "Ad" icon, placed conveniently in the middle of the line, reveals that the message is an ad and not something sent to the user's account.

It is unclear if Google is rolling out the change to all Gmail users who use the web interface, or if this is part of a limited test.

9to5Google reports that Gmail mobile users are also seeing more ads i the official client. The Updates category may show advertisement as well to users.

How to avoid ads on Gmail

Gmail users who use the web interface have several options when it comes to avoiding advertisement.

Ads are currently limited to the categories promotions and social. To avoid those, you may start using the inbox exclusively.

Another option that worked here was to disable smart features and personalization. This is done in the following way:

  1. Open the Gmail website.
  2. Activate the cog-icon at the top and select See all settings.
  3. Under General, locate "Smart features and personalization".
  4. Uncheck "Turn on smart features and personalization" to turn off this feature. Note that several of Gmail's features, such as smart compose, autocorrect or spell checking, are tied to the feature. These won't work anymore once the feature has been disabled.
  5. Reload the Gmail interface.

Gmail users have other options at their disposal. They may switch to a desktop client, such as the open source Thunderbird email client or the built-in email client of the Vivaldi browser. This integrates Gmail in the application and gets rid of any advertisement that Google displays on the Gmail website.

A final option is to start using a content blocker. Extensions like uBlock Origin may also block ads on the Gmail website.

Now You: do you use Gmail?

Google is pushing inline ads on Gmail
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Google is pushing inline ads on Gmail
Some Google Mail users are now seeing ads in the middle of their inbox on the Gmail website.
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  1. Tachy said on May 7, 2023 at 3:21 am

    Outlook is doing it too.

    I normally use a local email client so everything is in one place as I use a few different providers but sometimes I log onto the web interfaces to report phishing and block domains so that stuff doesn’t even make it to my client.

  2. Giggerota the Wicked said on May 6, 2023 at 9:58 pm

    I presume in the second posted image, the one with the visible “martinbrinkman” address, is a honeypot email account. Those sponsored “Inbox Adverts” look more like something akin to a crazy spam infestation is going on…

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Giggerota the Wicked said on May 7, 2023 at 11:13 am

      That clears that up; it probably wasn’t meant to be a honeypot email address. That’s why I misspelt it, just in case.

  3. Service Pack said on May 6, 2023 at 8:16 pm

    Anyone who uses Hotmail/Live/Outlook email account that still gets ads even with adguard and ublock origin installed and running?

    1. boris said on May 6, 2023 at 9:12 pm

      You need to install user script to block ad leftover in right panel.

  4. Someone said on May 6, 2023 at 7:58 pm

    Using extremly only gmail, I never gone through that ad thing, only on my
    phone, where ads is freely everywhere. If you want to block them, just install
    Ublock, and work is done.

  5. just an Ed said on May 6, 2023 at 5:13 pm

    I haven’t seen ads yet in Gmail, but I don’t know if that’s because I don’t use the Promotions tab or because I use UBlock Origin.

  6. VioletMoon said on May 6, 2023 at 3:38 pm

    Proton Mail announced a forward feature from Gmail to Proton that deletes trackers, etc.

    Maybe the best privacy one will achieve.

  7. Nameless said on May 6, 2023 at 12:23 pm

    they are on Promotion tab like they always been…just get rid of that tab and no more ads, lol

  8. Anonymous said on May 6, 2023 at 8:43 am

    As disgusting as Microsoft placing advertisements at the top of Outlook inboxes. Sundar Pichai wants more money, so there will be more advertisements and employee layoffs. How long till they disable IMAP and SMTP? They should face serious penalties for directly spamming people’s inboxes. These companies need to be broken up.

  9. Yash said on May 6, 2023 at 8:35 am

    Good old Google.

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