Google is planning for higher quality Gmail ads; more targeted, useful, and tailored towards desires.
Although Gmail is said to be implementing changes in the ads already, the personalization-based ads could still be a month out.
Gmail hasn't always displayed the most intuitive ads. They don't always get it right. Remember, they are serving ads largely based on the context in emails.
Funnily enough, Boing Boing and Lifehackerboth posted about how to trick Gmail to not display ads by using tragedy-saturated-trigger-keywords, keywords Gmail feels would be uncouth to profit from. Currently the ads being served are not tied heavily into regions.
The new ad system will use similar signals to the priority inbox. The system was meant to prioritize your inbox for you and make email a much easier and faster experience. Gmail intends to showcase less obtrusive ads and increase click through rates by showing ads that pertain to you specifically, such as coupons relevant to your region.
What is particularly interesting about this strategy is, as Christopher Heine reported for ClickZ, that Groupon has had huge success in rapidly growing a list of active email addresses, and keeping it up to date - a strategy that has traditionally been a major challenge for email marketers. Perhaps local deal advertising will be a way for Gmail ads to be more effective while simultaneously maintaining list quality and growing it's user base?
It looks like Google is on the verge of knowing the true value of Gmail users.