gmail-logo

Google Quietly Updates Gmail to Cache Images: Impact for Email Marketers

  |  December 31, 2013   |  Comments

Continued from

4. Cookies

Cookie synchronization for ad serving and retargeting may be undermined. Advertisers are increasingly performing cookie synchronization between ad data management platforms and their CRM databases. The benefit is more relevant ad targeting and more timely and relevant email. Gmail may become a black hole for this activity.

5. Timing

Tools that deliver images dynamically based on time (think time-limited offers) will be negatively impacted. Once the recipient sees the image, it will not be downloaded again and so will not be able to change.

6. Counts

Since images are cached they will, at most, be downloaded once per recipient. Total opens will fall. Tools that use multiple image downloads to infer read times and repeat reading will be negatively impacted.

One other impact of the Google image cache is that it restricts images to 10MB. Any image larger than that produces an error. While not an issue for most, this can be significant for animated images.

If you're wondering why Google would make these changes, I can think of a couple of reasons.

The first is privacy. Unlike most other webmail providers, Google has always hidden the submitting IP address of emails. This change also masks the IP address of readers, as well as other information about them that might be considered sensitive (browser information could be used for exploits, for example).

The second is performance. Google's cache service is fast, but some senders' image delivery isn't. This can provide a better experience for Gmail users.

There are other possible reasons, but most of them require ownership of a tin-foil hat so I won't get into them right now.

As for what to do about it, talk to your email provider. For most email marketing, the impact will be on reporting and analytics rather than functionality. If your ESP provides gross or total open rate numbers, these will likely shrink. Providers that collect and report on statistics around location, device etc., are already working to exclude or adjust for the Gmail data and see if there are other ways to obtain the same information.

The larger impact though is if you're delivering images dynamically based on device, time or location. In these instances, you will certainly need to make changes. The most likely outcome is that Gmail users will get a degraded experience, rather than the improved experience Google was aiming for.

Page:

ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Derek Harding

Derek Harding is the CEO and founder of Innovyx Inc., a member of the Omnicom Group and the first e-mail service provider to be wholly owned by a full-service marketing agency. A British expatriate living in Seattle, WA, Derek is a technologist by background who has been working in online marketing on both sides of the Atlantic for the last 10 years.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Email newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

ion Interactive Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper

Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper
Marketing apps can elevate a formulaic landing page into a highly interactive user experience. Learn how to turn your static content into exciting marketing apps.

eMarketer: Redefining Mobile-Only Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop
A new breed of selective mobile-only consumers has emerged. What are the demos of these users and how and where can marketers reach them?

Jobs

    • Contact Center Professional
      Contact Center Professional (TCC: The Contact Center) - Hunt ValleyLooking to join a workforce that prides themselves on being routine and keeping...
    • Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador
      Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreAgora, www.agora-inc.com, continues to expand! In order to meet the needs of our...
    • Design and Publishing Specialist
      Design and Publishing Specialist (Bonner and Partners) - BaltimoreIf you’re a hungry self-starter, creative, organized and have an extreme...