The NYT is reporting that you will soon begin seeing picture ads in Gmail. They spoke to Google’s Alex Gawley who oversees Gmail. Gawley reveals that they will be based on the email that you read although they won’t be animated. This comes as part of Google’s new focus on improving ads in Gmail.

The ads will be positioned on the right side of the screen and will pull data from the email coming into your inbox, just as the text-only ads do now. This would be a major departure for Google, who has focused on text-only ads across most of its major properties like Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar.

Gawley said that he understands the need to get the ads right as it will be a major departure from what the relative unobtrusiveness of text. “Even though we’ve seen positive results on the advertising side, we want to make sure that users are not alienated. With this one, we want to be extra cautious.”

The NYT included a sample ad in its article.

Screen shot 2011 05 16 at 8.14.46 AM1 Image ads coming to Gmail, at least they wont be animated

Gawley stated that the ads were in limited testing now and that they will be displayed based on the content of your messages as well as the actions you take on the ones that come in. If you open some messages and don’t open others for instance, it will base the ads it displays on the emails that you do read.

He also states that Google has reduced the overall number of ads it displays because it wants users to develop confidence that the ads they see have been chosen carefully for them and are as relevant as possible to you.

We’re not all that excited to see image ads coming to my Gmail based on the emails we read. Would seeing image ads in your Gmail be enough to get you to stop using it?

We’ve been dreaming about the prospect of paying for Google services in order to use them without having to look at advertising. Would you pay for Gmail, Google Docs and other Google products on a monthly basis to see them ad free?