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Gmail now with display ads, just like Hotmail and Yahoo

Gmail display adWhen Gmail launched, one of the key things that differentiated it from its competitors was its complete reliance on highly non-intrusive text ads. Whereas the Yahoos and MSNs of the world were busy giving the word 'skyscraper' new meanings, Google kept it simple. While this may not have been as important to Gmail adoption as the threaded message view, spam filters, or any other features, it did contribute to Google's mail app feeling a bit more humane than others.

Google seems to have forgotten all about the above, or simply shows that it has never cared, since reports are coming in that it's running an experiment involving display ads in Gmail. For now, Google says, these will only appear next to messages that are, themselves, heavy in image content. How long before that changes and we'll struggle to even notice our inbox because it will be drowned in display ads on all sides? It's not clear. Nor is it certain that this experiment will ever result in widespread use of display ads on Gmail. But, however limited in scope, this move does represent an interesting and rather big shift for Gmail.

Tags: apps, display advertising, DisplayAdvertising, email, Gmail, google, Web, webmail