Google is currently testing a new AdWords ad unit which is some what unique to Gmail and that introduces more graphical interactive ads without going so far as to introduce display ads.
According to the report, "the new AdWords units appear above the text ads in the right sidebar. They include an image, a headline and a couple of lines of text. They also feature the name of the advertiser next to an envelope icon, indicating that clicking-through takes the user to an e-mail message."
Pamela Parker reports that in the case of Focus Features' execution for its "One Day" film, clicking on the link takes the user to a large static image -- with buttons that allow for interaction -- in the e-mail reading window. The creative can be easily forwarded like any other e-mail message or dismissed. Explanatory text reads: "What's this? It's a new type of ad you can save to your inbox or forward on. If you dismiss this ad, you won't see it again." "The new format capitalizes on some of the user behaviors associated with e-mail… seeing an envelope icon, clicking through to view something in the message window, and forwarding it. It also allows for much larger creative units -- including multiple images and lots of text -- that haven't been possible in Gmail previously."
A Google spokesperson said in a statement:
The ads are designed specifically for Gmail and look and function a little differently from regular text ads. Also noting that the ads are being shown to "a small number" of users in the U.S. and testing began in July.