Google will stop mining Gmail content for personalizing ads
The move brings ad personalization methods for Gmail in line with other Google products.
Google’s long-running practice of mining email content in Gmail accounts to target ads will soon come to an end.
The company announced Friday that the more than 1.2 billion Gmail users will no longer have their email content scanned for personalized ad targeting, starting later this year. The practice has been controversial and has apparently caused confusion among potential (paying) G Suite customers concerned about scanning practices in that product. The announcement came from Diane Green, SVP of Google Cloud in a blog post titled, “As G Suite gains traction in the enterprise, G Suite’s Gmail and consumer Gmail to more closely align.”
With this change, ad personalization in Gmail will be based only on the user’s Google account settings, as is the practice with ad personalization in other Google products such as Search ads. When a user opts out of ad personalization in their Google account, that will now apply to the ads they see in Gmail as well.
This marks the final nail in the coffin of a practice that has been under fire from privacy advocates for years. In 2014, in response to a lawsuit, Google agreed to stop scanning email content in the student version of Gmail for advertising purposes. In December 2016, Google said it would scan emails in standard Gmail accounts only after the messages arrived in users’ inboxes, again in response to legal action.
Google also announced Friday that G Suite’s customer base more than doubled in the past year. There are now more than 3 million companies using G Suite, the portfolio of apps that includes versions of Gmail, Drive and Docs and Google Calendar tailored for business use. G Suite users will continue to have an ad-free version of Gmail.