TECH
23/07/2013 11:22 BST | Updated 22/09/2013 10:12 BST

Gmail Tabs Introduce Ads That Look Exactly Like Emails

Gmail has a new layout - and a new, very confusing form of advertising.

Gmail Tabs were introduced by Google earlier this year, and are designed to automatically filter your emails as they arrive into a number of pre-defined inboxes.

The standard tabs currently filter messages as 'Priority', 'Updates', 'Social' and 'Promotions' based on their content, who sent it and how many recipients were listed.

But while the new feature might help you organise your mail, it's also turning out to be a new and confusing way to sell you stuff.

A number of users have reported seeing adverts under their 'Promotions' tab which look suspiciously like highlighted emails - with the same subject line/description formatting as a genuine message. Except when you click it, the 'email' turns out to be an advert.

Over at Geek.com Matthew Humphries writes that the new ads are a step too far:

Blurring the line between emails and adverts will be viewed as a step too far for some users, including myself. Not only could these be classed as unwanted/spam emails, they just add to the number of emails you need to organize or delete.

But in a statement sent to VentureBeat Google says the experimental layout is designed to be more relevant - and points out that whereas ads used to appear at the top of every inbox page they're now relegated just to the promotions tab:

"Instead of ads always appearing at the top of your inbox, they've been relegated to a more appropriate place in your Promotions category. In addition, we've raised the quality of these ads and won't show you an ad unless it's relevant -- which means you may sometimes see no ads at all in your Promotions tab. You can also dismiss the ads you see in your Promotions tab by clicking the "X" button on the right-hand side."