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With New Ad Features Tapping Gmail, YouTube and Mobile, a Step Closer to 'One Google'

Google begins to tap the Gmail cornucopia for its ads business.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images North America

In recent years, the motto inside Mountain View has been “One Google” — a goal to achieve uniform experiences among its products for users and customers. Omid Kordestani, the outgoing business chief, mentioned this on the company’s last earnings call. At Code Conference in May, Kordestani described it as a “dashboard” for chief marketers, a comprehensive offering that ensures Google is “getting our advertisers to the right people.”

On Monday, the company’s ad business took two steps in that direction. At Advertising Week in New York, Google introduced new ad features that make use of its very broad reach across the Internet as it wages a heated battle with Facebook and others over digital spending.

The first, Customer Match, makes the most use to date of Google’s immense well of email users. Advertisers can upload customer Gmail addresses — “in a secure and privacy-safe way,” adds Google — and, for the first time, can deploy them in targeted campaigns along with search and YouTube.

Here’s how Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s SVP of ads and commerce, explained the feature in a press release: “Whether they’re searching on Google, checking promotions on Gmail, or watching videos on YouTube, we can deliver the most relevant information based on what they’re doing, wherever they are, when they’re looking, and on any device they’re using. Today, we’re building on these capabilities with new ads innovations to deliver even more relevance.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on the product’s arrival back in April. Facebook has offered a similar feature for advertisers since 2012, with targeting options based on email addresses and phone numbers.

The second ad update is about apps. In May, Google unveiled “Universal App Campaigns,” a central portal for developers to manage the promotion of their apps across Google’s media channels. On Monday, Google opened the feature up more widely. Developers can now push apps within search, Google’s massive display ad network, Google Play and YouTube.

App ads have been a boon for Facebook. And Google has steadily trying to draw that spending, too, as it refines its mobile strategy. With both new products, Google is stressing, as it has lately, the ability to influence consumers when they are close to making a purchase — something that Facebook lacks.

For advertisers, both features will likely be welcomed. On the ads side, Google has tended to shy away from targeting capabilities well within its reach. (How many Gmail users thought their emails were already used to sell targeted ads? Many, probably.) But ad buyers love that type of precise targeting, and will pay for it. And unlike other ad targeting options that scrap info following a website visit, Google says it is only matching Gmail addresses that customers have given voluntarily to companies.

“Only Google can help you do this to delight your most loyal customers in the moments that truly matter,” Ramaswamy said.

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