Which ads do you like better?

When I did a presentation on web 2.0 tools some weeks ago, I talked about webmail and which free webmail services you can use. I personally like Google Gmail very much but I wanted to show some alternatives in my class.

When I presented Gmail along with Yahoo Mail, Zoho Mail and Microsoft Live Mail, I pointed out that I don’t like Microsoft’s webmail because they have some very distracting ads in the webmail interface. I was very surprised when somebody in the audience told me in the chat window, that Google Gmail also have ads in their webmail interface.

I never thought about that, but he was right. Google is also placing a text ad on the top of the mail overview and to the right of each opened e-mail. I have used Gmail so long, that I hardly recognize these as ads any more.

On the other hand, I recognize all the graphical, picture laden and maybe even animated ads on every page and I find them extremely annoying. Don’t get me wrong, I never click on these annoying ads, I’d rather try to find an ad-blocker to avoid them. On the other hand, I never felt the urge to block any text-only ads in my webmail interface.

But wait, there is more! Google usually places really interesting ads near the e-mail content. I even find an interesting link occasionally in the sidebar if I read an e-mail so that I sometimes even click on one of these text links to find out more. So, on second thought I can’t say that Gmail does not have ads in their webmail interface, but they don’t have distracting and/or annoying ads there.

If you have the choice, what would you like better? A small collection of well chosen text link ads that won’t distract you from reading your e-mail or a colorful, obtrusive image that jumps right in your face when you open the e-mail you want to read?