YMH No. 46 | Google Support for Email Ads Drives Speculation


Google Support for Email Ads Drives Speculation

Google added beta support for image-based email newsletter ads, validating the amazing rise of email newsletters.

While the Search Ad King did not publish an official release, it did post two support and development articles about the email newsletter tag beta. The first article was on the Google Developer's documentation site, and the second article appeared in the Google Ad Manager help center.

Google Ad Manager's email advertising implementation is not innovative. In fact, it is very similar to what programmatic email advertising leaders like LiveIntent, Kit, or Paved have been doing for some time.

Nonetheless, Google's newfound interest in email could be telling. I believe there are at least five reasons why Google Ad Manager is adding email newsletter support. Admittedly, this is wild speculation, but read on and let me know if you believe I am off the mark.

No. 1: The Email Newsletter Boom

Since at least 2017, when Substack launched its newsletter-meets-social-media platform, email has been having a moment. Here are some examples.

ConvertKit had about 1.4 million users on its platform in June 2024, and many of those users publish newsletters. These folks include content creators like James Clear, Mark Manson, and Sahil Bloom, as well as the who's who of top authors, bloggers, coaches, and influencers.

Add to that number Substack's 29,800 active newsletters —according to BuiltWith in June 2024— Beehiiv's 26,000 newsletters, and Letterhead's 1,800.

This growth alone might be enough to interest Google and encourage GAM's beta support for email ads. But there is another possibility.

No. 2: The Cookie Monster

You may think Google is a search engine, but it is really an advertising platform.

In 2023, Google generated $237.86 billion in advertising revenue, accounting for most of the company's total revenue of $305.63 billion. Nice, right?

Here is the problem. Privacy pundits and regulatory bodies have expressed serious concerns about how ad platforms have used web cookies to track folks online. These tracking cookies significantly improve ad performance, so Google has been reluctant to turn them off. In fact, the company has promised to kill tracking cookies four times. At the moment, third-party cookies are scheduled to be removed from Chrome by early 2025.

When tracking cookies are gone, ads could become relatively less effective, hitting Google right in the profit margin.

Email is not subject to the cookie monster. Since every email is sent to a known person, displaying relevant ads is easy.

No. 3: To Make Ads Work Better

Email ads could improve the performance of subsequent web ads.

When third-party tracking cookies are eliminated from the Chrome browser, website ads will be less effective because ad platforms cannot target specific users as they do now. But, if the link comes from an email, the email message can pass the user information.

For example, Kit has a feature called global advanced tracking. It allows every link in a newsletter to pass targeting information to a website —like a WordPress site running Raptive or MediaVine ads. Other programmatic email companies do this, too, and it can improve website ad effectiveness by 40 percent or more.

This is pure speculation on my part, but Google could be planning something similar.

No. 4: Influencers Heading to Email

As mentioned in number one above, email newsletters are having a moment. So much so, in fact, that what you might call influencers —think YouTube, TikTok, and Reels— are coming to email.

An email audience is "owned," meaning the influencer directly controls it. This is much, much better than having a social media platform "own" your audience.

Without exaggeration, I know of more than a hundred video and podcast creators who are building newsletter audiences right now. If you don't want to take my word for it, check out Wordsmith. It is an app built specifically to generate newsletter content from YouTube videos.

No. 5: Publisher Demand

So far in this article, I have focused on email newsletter creators. For me, these are folks like Tim Stoddart, Jay Clause, and similar. All of these newsletter creators are, in a sense, publishers, but that term more readily applies to enterprise companies like Dotdash Meredith, Dow Jones, and Hearst.

These big publishers are some of Google Ad Manager's best customers or target customers. Thus, my final speculation is that these sorts of enterprise publishers have been asking for email tag support.

GAM for Email Newsletters

The news is that without much fanfare, Google has added beta support for email newsletter ads. I think this is good news for newsletter creators.

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