In a recent change, Gmail has started supporting cache control, a mechanism for websites to indicate how long it's OK to keep content for without requesting an update. While this change does not address all of the capabilities that caching impacted, it does improve the situation for some of them.
You may recall that Gmail started caching images in emails and doing so in a way that had a number of negative impacts for marketing messages, including loss of location, referrer, browser identification, cookies, timing, and total counts. These losses were mitigated by Gmail's subsequent decision to load images by default, thereby increasing counts and improving how most marketing messages looked.
In a recent change, Gmail has started supporting cache control, a mechanism for websites to indicate how long it's OK to keep content for without requesting an update. While this change does not address all of the capabilities that caching impacted, it does improve the situation for some of them. This is most important to companies that are dynamically serving image content, such as Movable Ink and LiveIntent.
One might reasonably wonder why the Google cache didn't support cache control in the first place. Web caching has a bit of a checkered history and many websites effectively discourage caching of all their content, thereby undermining the reliability of cache control instructions. It's also possible the Google developers were just being lazy - their original problem didn't require cache control so they never implemented support for it. Whatever the reason, they have relented and now support the cache control header.
This means that suitably configured image servers will be able to ensure that every email open results in a new image being served. This is great if you wish to:
What has not changed are all the other things we lost when the cache was introduced. Gmail still hides:
The net result is that of the six pieces of data we originally lost, this change gives back two (timing and counts) but not the others. I do not expect to see the other four pieces of data coming back, ever. Though they have legitimate value and uses, each of them can also be used by nefarious actors to undermine privacy and in some cases security.
As a marketer, if you see a jump in your Gmail open rates, it does not mean you've found some great content, rather than Gmail's total open rates are being recorded again. Which is good news, kind of.
Until next time.
On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!
Derek is the managing director of J-Labs, Javelin Marketing Group's technology skunkworks, a role that draws on his 20 years of experience and leadership in the fields of marketing and technology. A British expatriate based in Seattle, Washington, Derek is perhaps better known as the founder and technologist behind Innovyx, one of the first email service providers later acquired by the Omnicom Group. An industry veteran and thought-leader, Derek is a regular expert author, contributor, conference speaker, and takes an active role in a number of industry and trade groups.
Hong Kong, May 5-6, 2015
Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.
Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.
May 6, 2015
12:00pm ET/9:00am PT