Well, it seems that ancient history has come back to attack Google, probably only because Google has reached the top as far as digital marketing goes. TechCrunch recently published an article detailing a new controversy, or rather an attempt at creating controversy regarding Google’s Gmail marketing tactics. It is, as some would expect, Microsoft that is behind the new questioning about Google and the way they receive information from Gmail accounts in order for marketers to better target consumers that use the free email service. A site that seems to be getting more and more well-known, Scroogled, which is run by Microsoft, is where TechCrunch found Microsoft’s accusations made about Google’s Gmail marketing methods. On the site, it is stated,
Your email is nobody else’s business. But Google makes it their business. Even if you’re not a Gmail user, Google still goes through your personal email sent to Gmail and uses the content to sell ads.
First, when I say ancient history, I am of course referring to the way the web responded to Gmail in 2004 when it was brand new. According to TechCrunch’s research on the debacle back in 2004, people debated about Gmail because of “potentially sticky privacy issues,” as it was stated in PCMag. Even then, the entire problem was a result of Google using Gmail to read user emails in order to procure better information for use in targeted marketing by email marketers. People were worried about their privacy, asking frantic questions about what this would mean for them if they decided to try Gmail on for size.
Of course, these were the days when people knew very little about privacy terms and policies, as the digital world we live in today was still in its beginning stages. Facebook was new, Twitter did not exist, and smartphones were barely even an idea yet. According to TechCrunch, it is this that distinguishes Microsoft’s statements about Gmail today from those of 2004.
TechCrunch says that the reason that these types of accusations do not quite spike any particular panic from online consumers is that Gmail is no longer new. Also, consumers are no longer new to the web, and with things like Facebook, Twitter, mobile phones, and Geolocation services, people are sort of used to giving out their info. Most people are well aware that their information is being used, and they simply accept it, especially since Google only reads emails that are relevant for their use.
In Google’s case, people got over it because Gmail, at launch, was demonstrably better than the competition. It was worth selling a little bit of your soul privacy in order to take a dramatic leap forward in email.
People have experienced companies’ use of their information, and things have not really turned out badly for them. For the most part, the only result that comes of companies’ use of user information is successful and accurate targeting of advertisements, and most users appreciate these rather than ads that are irrelevant in their lives.
So, TechCrunch chops Microsoft’s newest accusations and problem-starting up to an attempt at a clever marketing tactic. However, it does not seem so much clever, but rather desperate. Chances are, in the end this Scroogled attempt will not turn out as well as Microsoft had hoped, and the company will turn around and walk home, red in the face and embarrassed.