An Early Look at How Gmail Works

Share this article:
For the past week, DM News has been one of the 1,000 users Google invited to test its controversial new e-mail service, Gmail.


A common complaint by Gmail critics is that scanning personal e-mail messages to place ads is invasive, or, in the words of California state Sen. Liz Figueroa, "like having a massive billboard in the middle of your home."


But the vast majority of Gmail messages have contained no advertising. Google spokesman David Krane said the company is judicious about the frequency, and users should not expect to see them in most messages.


One unusual feature of Gmail is how it stores information in "conversations," which build as a user corresponds with someone. As the conversations grow, Google's AdSense listings will shift as the messages change subjects.


Of the ads received, some have been impressively targeted, highlighting the potential payoff for advertisers. One e-mail message about a visit to New York to watch a Yankees game was accompanied by text listings offering Yankees tickets and merchandise. Another e-mail about an upcoming marathon contained an ad for endurance-boosting supplements.


Commercial e-mail is the most likely to receive text listings. The DM News daily e-mail newsletter returned ads for mailing listings and e-mail marketing software; an e-mail from Turbo Tax yielded listings from tax-preparation services. A reminder order from 1-800 Contacts comes with offers from competing services.


As a product still in testing, however, Gmail often gets it wrong. Invoices from cell-phone providers target listings for invoice services, not cell phones. An e-mail mentioning 9/11 and the war in Iraq triggered listings for online memorials. Krane said Google filtered ads from sensitive subjects and would continue to build this capacity.


Share this article:
close

Next Article in Digital Marketing

Follow us on Twitter @dmnews

Latest Jobs:

Featured Listings

More in Digital Marketing

Is the Next Mobile Already at Hand?

Is the Next Mobile Already at Hand?

Researchers quibble about just how big the Internet of Things is going to be, but a new report says it's going to be huge and that marketers need to pay ...

Sony Brings Data to Outdoor Advertising

Sony Brings Data to Outdoor Advertising

Norwegian moviegoers got front-row seats when Sony took dynamic digital ads off the Web and into theaters.

Ramp Introduces Video Platform for Marketers

Ramp Introduces Video Platform for Marketers

The cloud-based platform syncs with marketing automation and capitalizes on user behavior to extend view times.