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Email Ads: What They Are and How to Use Them in 2021. Best Practices for Newsletter Publishers

How to use ads in email newsletters
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This is a step-by-step guide about what email ads are and how to monetize email newsletters using programmatic native ads.

Nowadays, more and more publishers are looking for new ways to make money out of the content they’re already publishing. And many of them are testing email ads.

But problems can arise with email ads that aren’t a good fit for the newsletter’s audience. Or, even if the ads are a fit for the audience, finding advertisers and placing ads in a newsletter can end up being quite a lot of work.

Fortunately, there is a way to generate more revenue, maintain the editorial quality of your newsletter, and get it all done without a lot of work.

And that way is using programmatic native ads.

By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll understand what email newsletter ads are, what the different types of newsletter ads are, the technology behind how they work, and how you can use them to generate more income from your newsletter with little to no extra work.


What Are Email Ads?

Email ads are ads that appear in email messages. The ads are usually paid for by a third party, known as “the advertiser.”

There are three types of email ads: display, native, and solo ads.

Display ads: Ads that are embedded into the email as HTML code. Display ads can be text, images, or even videos.

Native ads: Ads that complement the rest of the content in the email so well that they appear to be part of the editorial content. Native ads can be display ads if they are created via HTML code embedded within the email. Or they can be programmatic ads created by a script embedded in the email that can serve ads dynamically from a third-party ad server.

Example of native ads in email
This is how a native ad would look like in your newsletter.


Sponsored emails: Also known as “solo ads,” these ads take over the entire email message or email campaign. They appear almost as if the advertiser sent their own email to the publisher’s subscribers, though publishers control every aspect of solo ads.


What Are Native Ads and How Can They Benefit Subscribers, Advertisers, and Publishers?

Of the three types of ads, native ads are usually the most effective. Because they work so seamlessly with the rest of the content in an email, subscribers accept native ads more easily. Subscribers are also more likely to click native ads, and may even think the ads enhance the newsletter.

Here’s an example of a native ad:

This is a native ad in a newsletter.

Can you see the label that shows it’s an ad?


What Are Programmatic Native Ads?

Programmatic native ads take all the benefits of native ads even further because the technology that runs programmatic ads can pick which ads are most likely to be of interest to subscribers.

Here’s how it works: The algorithm can check the performance of past ads shown to your audience. Then it selects which ad in its database is most likely to get clicked based on that historical data.

This is how programmatic advertising works in a newsletter.
This is the power of programmatic in selecting the right ad for the right audience.


Programmatic advertising has come a long way in the last few years. As AI-driven ad servers have become smarter and smarter, ads have become more relevant and thus more clickable.

Programmatic advertising in newsletters now allows publishers to place a piece of code into their newsletter templates just once, and then let an ad server automatically show relevant ads to the newsletter’s subscribers. Once the code is placed, there is no additional work required for the publisher.


How To Monetize An Email Newsletter With Ads

Does placing some code into the template of your newsletter and then watching the money flow in sound good?

If it does, you’re not alone.

Increasingly, publishers are testing email monetization strategies, including display, programmatic, and solo ads.

Solo, display, and native ads do tend to generate more revenue, usually because they are “direct-sold” through salespeople. But those types of ads also require far more hands-on management and coordination. 

Programmatic native advertising, by comparison, is far more “set it and forget it” and far more tailored to reader preferences. You can also include programmatic native ads in every newsletter you send.

We have a detailed blog post on what to consider as you plan your email monetization strategy, but here are the key points for how to incorporate programmatic native advertising into your newsletter:


Don’t overdo the newsletter ads.

A few ads can enhance a newsletter, but too many may turn subscribers off. Check your analytics reports to determine what number of ads are right for your audience. Our email monetization platform allows advertisers to see detailed analytics reports so they can make data-backed decisions about how many ads and which ad formats to use.


Label ads.

Per IAB standards, native ads require a label or notification so email readers know the specific piece of content they’re looking at is an ad, not regular content. Most native ads typically have the word “ADVERTISEMENT” right above them.


Design your newsletter so the editorial content and the ad content work together.

Native ads can also be designed so they blend into the rest of the email’s content. We give publishers tools to customize how ads appear.


Prioritize ad creative.

If you want optimal performance from the email advertising in your newsletters, hire a designer to make the ads look as good as possible. Or, if you don’t have access to a designer, there are email monetization platforms that have in-house design teams that can create custom ad templates for you.

Creative elements in newsletters.


Programmatic Native Ads in Email Newsletters: Good for Subscribers, Publishers, and Advertisers

To recap:

  • There are three types of ads in newsletters: display, native, and solo.
  • Native ads are ads that complement or blend into the editorial content of your newsletter.
  • Programmatic native advertising not only allows ads to blend into your newsletter content; the technology also decides which ads to show based on your subscribers’ preferences, which are inferred from their online behavior.
  • Once the advertising code is placed in an email template, programmatic native advertising is “set it and forget it.”
  • To help your ads perform their best, don’t put too many ads into each newsletter.


So there you are.

This is everything you need to know to get started with monetizing your email newsletters.

There’s only one more thing you need to start monetizing your newsletters: an inboxAds account. And that’s free and takes only a few minutes to set up. It works with any email service provider.

An hour from now, you could have a whole new revenue stream for your business.

Ready to get started?


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