Google has introduced a new form of advertising into Gmail: paid email messages.
Gmail has had a makeover, and users everywhere have noticed the change. Google's free web mail service now sorts your emails into tabs: Primary, Social and Promotions. Social is for updates on social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook; Primary is for newsletters and correspondence; and Promotions is for marketing offers and deals, such as Catch of the Day.
However, users have been noticing a new type of email popping up in the Promotions tab: paid-for-placement advertising. These are in addition to the ad bar that shows up at the top of the page and column on the right-hand side when you open an email.
They are differentiated from regular emails by a shaded background and the word "ad" appearing below the sender's name; users can open them and read them like a normal email, with information on the promotion inside with links and videos. You have the option to forward to a friend or dismiss the ad; if you dismiss it, you won't receive that particular promotion again.
"It's a new type of ad which you can forward to a friend, or star to save it to your inbox. If you dismiss this ad, you won't see it again," Google said.
You can't opt out of receiving the promotions if you want to keep the tab, though. There are two ways to stop receiving them: disable the Promotions tab, or go back to the old inbox style.
To do both, simply click on the plus sign that appears to the right of your Gmail inbox tabs. To disable the Promotions tab, deselect it and hit save. To go back to the old inbox, deselect all tabs. Alternatively, if you want to see what sponsored promotions are tied to your account, you can visit your Pinbox.
At this point, the new promotions are still in beta, and are only appearing for a small number of Gmail users. CNET Australia has contacted Google for information, and will update this story when we know more.
We got used to the ad banners appearing in Gmail, but this feels a little more intrusive.
What do you think: is it something you can live with, or is this taking advertising a little too far? Let us know in the comments below.