Over the past few years we've seen advertising steadily creep into mobile apps, including unskippable ads on YouTube and promoted posts on Facebook and Twitter. Now Google, the grand poobah of online advertising, looks set to bring ads to an as-yet unsullied oasis of mobile connectivity. The groundwork is being laid to bring advertising to Gmail for Android, according to an app teardown by Android Police.
The Android-focused site dug into Gmail 4.6, a recent APK rolling out to Android devices, and found several references to advertising. It appears that ads in Gmail for Android may be similar to the ads that began appearing in the Promotions tabs of Gmail web users in July.
Instead of appearing as an on the sidebar of your Gmail window or in a ticker at the top, these ads appear similar to your other emails. Unlike regular messages, however, the ads are marked as such under the name of the "sender," along with an information icon you can click to find out more about the ads.
On Android, you'll have the ability to save these ads to your inbox or dismiss them, according to the Android Police teardown. Coffee lovers who receive an ad for 50 percent off a Frappuccino at Starbucks could keep that offer, for example, while dismissing a message from Coca-Cola.
That's the best guess for what ads will look like, anyway. Google has not yet announced ads in Gmail for Android, and it's not clear when the purported advertising roll out would happen--but it appears to be on the way nonetheless.
With more than 400 million Gmail users, many of whom rely on their mobile devices to stay connected, it's no surprise to see ads arrive in a product built by one of the giants of online advertising. We'll have to wait and see whether promotional messages in Gmail for Android turns out to be an inbox-clogging disaster or a relatively unobtrusive form of advertising that's just part of the price you pay for using a free webmail service.