Who’s Reading Your Email?

Have you seen this video about ‘The Gmail Man’?  It was a video made by Microsoft intended for internal use for their sales people as Office 365 launched. It’s on YouTube and I heard about it on the Windows Weekly show and took a look at it.

Yes, Gmail Reads Your Mail

In case some people are not aware, if you have a free Gmail account, ALL your mail is read (not by humans, they say, but by bots), in order to serve you ads that go along with your mail. They call this ‘context-sensitive’ and Gmail says they do this to give you a better experience. They say that instead of giving everyone the same ads that may hold no interest at all (for example, why would I want to be served ads about men’s products), they are serving us better by giving us ads that have some of the same keywords that are in our mail.

Getting back to this video – I think it’s great – Microsoft usually doesn’t respond to their competitors with much of anything (remember the Apple vs. PC commercials a few years ago). This time, they did something funny and true with this Gmail video.

As I said, they’re doing this to promote Office 365 – their new Exchange mail for small and large businesses. Yes, this is a paid service. Their competitor is the Google Apps service. When I took a look at what they offer, I saw in their features and benefits that “Gmail ads can be disabled”! Does that means the admin will have to go in and disable them? To me, that shouldn’t be an option, ads should not be there.

Compare To Other WebMail Email

Hotmail/Livemail Yes, Live/Hotmail does have ads, but they are not contextual, i.e., Microsoft doesn’t have mail-reading bots. You can pay $20/year to NOT see ads in your Live/Hotmail account

Yahoo Mail – these ads are not contextual, but are geo-targeted. You can pay to not see ads

Thunderbird (Mozilla) – they have ads, I didn’t find anything to say they are contextual

It’ll be interesting to see if other ads come out from Microsoft or Google. Do you keep and store sensitive information in your Gmail since they’ve given pretty much unlimited space?


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