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|Google considering "Gmail changes"|
This Reuters article [reuters.com] notes that Google is considering (one'd assume substantive) changes to Gmail.
|Google President and co-founder Sergey Brin told the Journal his company will not make any "rash changes" to the e-mail service which is still being tested by thousands of users. |
But he also said the idea of letting Gmail users opt in or out of the targeted ad service was an idea that "is being batted about. We certainly wouldn't rule it out," the Journal said.
I realize that this is obviously speculation on our part, but what sort of changes do you think Google is apt to consider? I'm not talking what you'd personally LIKE them to do ("Erase all the ads and keep it 100% free!" or "Just change the font, but leave the rest the same!"), but rather -- from a logical and pragmatic perspective, what changes you think Google might be "batting about."
Initially, I thought that perhaps Google'd offer a choice of free (with ads) and paid (no ads) models. But then I realized that this would not ameliorate the concerns of people who are loathe to have their e-mail stored in a Gmail account of any sort, paid or free (and folks sending mail wouldn't know the difference up front anyway). So, IMHO, that doesn't seem like a viable option.
[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 8:33 pm (utc) on April 14, 2004]
[edit reason] Updated link : this story was submitted over 12 times today [/edit]
My bet would be they will have non targetted ads for smaller (5mb) accounts and targetted ads for the larger 1gb accounts.
I think it was a horrible idea from the start. Did they think people would be OK with a machine that came and scanned your email........give me a break.
Google better find a U N I Q U E way to drive in real income in the coming quarters or any hope for a publicly traded company WILL be out the window. If this is the best they can do, A webmail client that has thousands up in arms filing legal motions ALREADY, what else is to come?
Any google IPO would be traded on the grounds of hype, nothing more. A solid foundation of good thinking and inventive products is obviously not present in Google.
My bet would be that you would get fewer, less obtrusive ads if you agree to targeted ads, and a larger number of ads that are more noticable if you opt-out of the targeted ads.
No matter what the result, I expect that it will be less obnoxious than the ads on the other services.
|If we could write some line of text in all mail sent to gmail users like: |
[GMAILBOT ARCHIVE=NO ADS=NO]
... which would ban the gmailbot from showing ads based on our content and from archiving the content, then that would be a big plus and something they should really consider doinging. That way if our content is forwarded onto other users and eventually ends up in a gmail account, google will at least recognize the original author did not want his/her content monetized or archived without their permission.
I would have no problem and would trust google if they gave me their word they would not use my content without my consent. Otherwise I WILL be blocking gmail users from sending me mail and will not be sending any to them.
That would take care of all the guys running businesses fearing that the ads from Google would steal their customers away when they send their customers newsletters, etc. That would also take care of the privacy freaks that fear sending mail to any gmail user. Now if you want to use GMail but fear privacy invasion or monetizing of your email messages.....IT'S A FREE SERVICE...don't like it, use something else like Yahoo or Hotmail.
|I realize that this is obviously speculation on our part, but what sort of changes do you think Google is apt to consider? |
I hope they'd consider the idea suggested in another thread: let the user choose to get ads about certain topics / keywords. That would still give them the AdWords-style revenue they need, and it would eliminate the need to analyze the email content to determine an ad's relevancy. If I'm choosing the types of ads I want to see, they should all be relevant to me which must be better than being relevant to the email.
My main problem with Gmail is this ... it's a slippery slope. Letting a company of the size and calibre of Google serve custom adverts by allowing them to scan our emails sets a precedent.
I know / hope that individuals will not read our messages, but that's not the point. It's just the fact that if Gmail garners enough wide spread acceptance we could be letting ourselves into more customized advertising from other sources. What would stop Yahoo! from implementing a similar service? Do you really think M$ would miss a money-making opportunity like this?
Call me a pessimist, fear-monger ... whatever. There's a principle at stake here.
G said to maintain a gmail account would cost them about $2/year - having a search box on top of the page should already generate more than that by users 'sticking' to G and using G's search instead of Y or MSN. G is greedy.
freeflight... that's a very good point...
and they could tie in email notifications into their toolbar, deskbar, etc... further solidifying the relationship with the user.
if google was smart they would make the content based ads an advanced option you can enable if you wanted too and leave it off by default... even if they showed untargetted ads, you're telling me they won't make $2/yr on those ads + the search box + increased search market share gmail could bring them?
I would be worried about what happens to those mails 25 years from now. Google is not one to promise anything about what they will do with your data in the future. God knows what they've done with all that toolbar data.
A crude scenario...
Google's archive gets bought out in 2010 by Spooks inc.
A 2004 Gmail user one day runs for president. Incumbent president's aides make a call to Spooks inc. and it's all over for the poor aspiring soul who made a couple of bad jokes to friends on his Gmail account.
That "try it you might like it" line reminds me of the cartoon character in the UK anti-child-smoking campain who used to push cigrettes onto the kids :)
Aparently, the laws are already being tabled to deal with G-Mail
That's bad. When you haven't even finished testing a product, and legislators are already trying to form laws to ban it.
Archiving issue: Bad, bad, dumb.The powers that be at G-Plex weren't thinking when they came up with that. There are ALREADY laws across the Euopean Union, Canada, and other nations banning that sort of activity. If Google goes ahead with the program as is, the only place it will be legal is pretty much the US. So much for "inclusion."
Scanning E-Mails for key words: Totally unnecessary to generate a profit. Given the extremely low cost of providing the service, they could turn a profit just by serving up a random tower of 4 ads in every e-mail. And again, there are already laws in many countries that this would violate. Does G-Plex even have a legal research department? You'd think the king of search woulda looked a few things up before they came up with this.
Google has a chance to win over a big chunk of the market with this one, and in many ways, I'd like to see the service succeed. It would be handy as heck. And if they do it right, they could win a huge fan base and market share overnight.
And as for the "its free, don't whine" argument I keep seeing, that doesn't hold water legally or morally. If anything, it increases the responsibility of Google, because of the temptation factor it presents for the unwitting. Its like giving away cars with bad steering and faulty brakes. And there are laws against that. Would you argue in favor of giving away those cars to anyone who asked, knowing that your not just putting the recipient at risk, but everyone else on the road? Heck no. And the G-Mail privacy issues aren't just putting its users at risk, but effectively anyone on the net, who doesn't necessarily know that their e-mail is going to end up in a G-Mail box, archived for all eternity (though most of us tend to write e-mails knowing full well that they can be archived by a user forever, and could potentially come back to haunt us). I do have a certain basic expectation of privacy when I send an e-mail. Just as I don't expect the postal service to open my mail and read it before it arrives at any given location, I don't expect this to happen with e-mail (well, actually, in practice I act as if it does).
The cost of storage is $2/GB per year. It is not the total cost of the service per user.
Most users will come no where near the 1 GB of storage, but they will use a fair amount of bandwidth if it is their primary mail account. There is the mail transfer as well as the serving of webmail pages.
I think I'm pretty much ready to give up discussing Gmail issues here.
1) People don't seem to be skimming, much less reading many of the arguments listed on both sides.
2) This seems akin to debating abortion or gay marriage or something like that. It doesn't seem like there are many folks 'in the middle' or willing to even consider the middle ground.
3) I'm finding more balanced discussion elsewhere.
I just wrote up a review on my blog, and at this point I think it's time for me to become a bit less emotionally involved in debating this subject. Gmail's not my project, I'm not being paid to defend it, and frankly, it's probably not even my place to be doing so. Not to mention there are plants in my apartment that are crying out to be watered, client work I should be attending to, and so on.
>>don't you think somewhere there are backups of your hotmail or yahoo messages? Or, perhaps even messages from your own domain that uses a commercial webhosting account?
Uh yea, thank you...
"Dear host, I need an e-mail that I deleted 2 years ago; can you find it for me?"
"That's been deleted sir."
"Name your price."
"Check your e-mail."
My gripe with Gmail? Not enough everyday WW members seem to have been given a go at the beta, although I can't blame them.
PS: Just received my monthly cellphone bill via Hotmail (after it finally loaded) and what do you know there was a skyscraper banner with a nauseous picture of a new cellphone. GMAIL? NO FEAR.
|3) I'm finding more balanced discussion elsewhere. |
ThatAdamGuy, I'm amazed you're hearing balanced discussion anywhere. I expected the most balanced discussion at webmasterworld, haven't seen it yet (not even in the supporters forum) and when I went looking for it elsewhere I couldn't find it.
Most posts here and elsewhere are still based on the almost two week old pre-release speculations of ad placement in e-mails (which has been proven wrong) or on Google's TOS stating that data is saved (as opposed to most other e-mail services which don't state the truth of their backup strategies). The only value I've seen from these threads is in how revealing each post is about that person as no real dialog is occuring and there has been no increase in shared knowledge.
If this isn't just a whisper campaign against Google, I don't know what else it is. Google, I'm looking forward to my Gmail account no matter what anyone says (and no matter how long I have to wait)! :D
<sigh> Discussing Gmail is officially "comparing tax returns" as digitalghost would put it. My participation in this subject ends here. (I'm going to go try to share what little knowledge I have in a different forum on webmasterworld.) Stickymail me if you have a response intended specifically for me.
Ok, so you guys are telling me if there were 3 million users using Gmail within 3 months, Google is planning to read each and every mail sent by each and every user?
Crazy. Why would Google have such interest in reading others' e-mails? All they are looking for, is to generate some revenue with their text-based ads - and people can't even understand that! Google is giving you 1 gig of space.
Yahoo not even 1% of it. Google only takes your first and last name while registering.
Yahoo needs to know where you live, what you do, your mothers maiden name and what all! Google is not planning to share the info with any third parties (if I'm right)
Yahoo spreads it to the whole damn world!
and you guys still dis-trust Google into breaking your privacy.
|teenage son |
Who doesn't have money and is probably not the target demographic for most web-based advertising.
Don't get me wrong - I don't like the idea either. But, from a business perspective, what Google doing here is sound. Very sound.
I wish I would have thought of it myself.
Read this and just thought about throwing in my 2 cents. Did you miss the last decade? Teenagers Have the most spendable income on this planet, there impulsive, and there more likely to buy on the internet. Whats not to like about that demographic?
As someone who advertises on google via those google ads I will tell you that my particular keywords cost me around $1.25 to $1.50 per click... so I'm sure that google will EASILY recap that $2+ per year per account.
I would personally prefer targeted ads as the random ones I'm currently getting on every site I go to and on both my yahoo and msn accounts are really annoying.
My concern is not over privacy as I know there are no people going through the email and google is doing NOTHING MALICIOUS HERE... (even though some of the privacy "freaks" out there think otherwise). It's not like google is going to give out your name, number, address, social security number, bank account numbers, and favorite search terms out to anyone. An email from a bank might show ads about banks or money next to it but google is not "invading your privacy" by doing that.
My concern is that my emails to my clients will have ads for my competitors along the side. Yes, my ads will come up sometimes (as I pay for them to be in google) but
A. if someone who is already my customer clicks on my ad to get back to my website, it just cost me some money for a customer I already had
B. if someone who is already my customer clicks on my competitor's ad, google just increased my risk of losing that customer (thank you very much)
Now of course my ads would display next to my competitor's emails to their clients, but then it becomes a race to be in the top (and most expensive) rankings to make sure you're displayed (as only the top ranking ads will be displayed, just like google adwords works now).
This makes it difficult for me to take a position on the matter.
On one hand I'd be the type to like a large email account for free (if I didn't already have unlimited accounts with huge mailboxes through my web host)
But on the other hand, from my business perspective, I don't want to be emailing people with gmail accounts for fear that I might lose some of my customers due to competitors ads. Here's something for everyone to chew on: google already monitors everything you do on the web by way of the google toolbar (if you have it and have pagerank turned on, as most do). They use this info to determine the popularity of sites and adjust the sites pagerank and search ranking accordingly. Oh yeah, it's not just google that does this but practically every company that offers a similar "search" toolbar. Are you using or know someone who's using an "MSN" or "Yahoo" browser? It's silly to think you have any privacy whatsoever.
|google already monitors everything you do on the web by way of the google toolbar (if you have it and have pagerank turned on, as most do). They use this info to determine the popularity of sites and adjust the sites pagerank and search ranking accordingly. Oh yeah, it's not just google that does this but practically every company that offers a similar "search" toolbar. Are you using or know someone who's using an "MSN" or "Yahoo" browser? It's silly to think you have any privacy whatsoever. |
I beleive you have confused yourself between the Alexa [alexa.com] toolbar and the Google toolbar. Google does not collect any info from its toolbar - and PR is not way near determined by "the number of people visiting a website who have the toolbar installed", PR is determined by the number of links you have from other sites, the PR they have and the number of links they have, linking to other websites from the same page.
Its the Alexa and the Yahoo toolbar (WebRank) which use toolbar information to determine a rank.
Also, MSN is simply just a toolbar - which uses no info, has no rankings etc.
It becomes clear, that comparable to the world of politics, people stop considering and weighing facts to form opinions. It seems people can't deal with the amibuity of things. So then you need simple answers, simple solutions:
"Either with us or against us."
"Either good or evil."
The comparison to abortion and political debates by ThatAdamGuy seems right on point.
People already have their opinion, and their only reading every news in the context of that opinion, of that worldview. So we start by assuming Google is an evil monopoly, and try to fit every fact in that equation. If something can't be made to fit, we ognore it. If major political leaders act like it, why can't we.
I wonder what would happen if Google announced nothing would ever be archived or kept on duplicate servers: We would have lousy performance ("Google is sooo slow, they should ddo something about it!") and when there is a hardware-failure people loose half or all their email ("How unprofessional, they don't even make backups. Amateurs!").
People are concerned because machines scan, read and filter their email according to content. Well here's news for you: Every half-effective "Spam-solution" is doing the same. Ever wondered how Spamassassin or bayesian filters work? Well you'd be surprised... And those things not only scan, read and filter your email, they even change* or delete it.
(*They add Headers)
I have one more question to the people that want to block gmail-users: Do you really think you can (or ever could) control what happened to your email after you sent it? Sounds pretty naive to me.
If people are concerned about privacy the answer really is very simple: Use encyrption. Get GnuPG/PGP and you have all the privacy you want. You won't even have to be worried when next year you find out, that mail is actually sent plain-text across the internet...
Here I've got one more complain to add about Google: You know how they make you sign up to use their service, well, an insider told me that they are actually saving your password (or a hash of it) on their servers! That's outrageous. How dare they...
(No, I wasn't even trying to be objective. I'm just going with the flow here....)
Sid - they are able to collect info if you have advanced features turned on. What they do with the info is not publicly stated.
|Google does not collect any info from its toolbar - and PR is not way near determined by "the number of people visiting a website who have the toolbar installed", PR is determined by the number of links you have from other sites, the PR they have and the number of links they have, linking to other websites from the same page. |
ruserious please do actually try to be objective, it is flippant responses that devalue debate about the issues.
The fact that various organisations at this moment scan email in order to protect the integrity of our online non public communications medium is completely and utterly different to someone doing this with the expressed aim of allowing our competitors access to filtered and identified lists of people with whom we correspond based on the detailed contents of our non public communications.
|Sid - they are able to collect info if you have advanced features turned on. What they do with the info is not publicly stated. |
ah. But my point was, unlike Yahoo! and Alexa, Google does not use the information to generate a PR value. My best guess would be they use it generate stastical information - which we all do, with our websites, I guess.
|The fact that various organisations at this moment scan email in order to protect the integrity of our online non public communications medium is completely and utterly different to someone doing this with the expressed aim of allowing our competitors access to filtered and identified lists of people with whom we correspond based on the detailed contents of our non public communications. |
Please explain to me, in which way this is valid critique of the gmail service. From the point of view of the user, it will certainly be of no drawback; and if how you imply your users/customers/correpondents would turn away from you after seeing those Ads, they surely you can't deny that those ads would actually be helpful to the user.
In which way is there something "new" possible now, that was not earlier. It is not google that is giving other people access, it is the users that are responsible (if they use gmail).
(And this doesn't even take into account, that it is not clear that such targeting as you are suggesting is or will be possible.)
They might consider showing adwords only in mail where BOTH the sender and the recipient have a Gmail account. That will be few in the beginning, but as time goes by and Gmail becomes more popular, it'll grow into a huge chunk, and there would be no legal problems because BOTH parties have agreed to their mail being scanned for adwords.
"(And this doesn't even take into account, that it is not clear that such targeting as you are suggesting is or will be possible.) "
ruserious you are quite right on this specific point Google and its representatives who comment in here seem to be being noticeably quiet :-)
On your question about my critique "From the point of view of the user" I will have to think further.
You are quite right to observe that my concerns have not been voiced as a prospective Gmail user and in the diferent points of view I have tried to take in my post here [webmasterworld.com...]
The point of view of a prospective Gmail user is not one I have seriously considered because as it stands I cannot at this time see myself ever becoming a voluntary user of Gmail except possibly as a counter measure to avoid having to respond to Gmail users messages using my genuine email addresses.
As I summarise at the end of that post, if the policies on scanning email contents for profit changed and the confidentiality of my identity and those of people sending email to me were tightenned up it would seem to me as a different service altogether and one that a majority of internet users could probably support.
thank you for the Link you provided and the elaborate post on the other end of that link. I enjoyed reading it (although I don't agree with all of it), and there are certainly questions to which the answers should IMHO come. My original post was however directed more to the majority of people that critizie for the sake of it, it's like an uncontrollable mob, and lots of nonsense is being uttered. I think the point that both of us agree on, is that the real criticisim that is founded in facts and worth discussing gets lost under a huge pile of nonsense and ridiculous speculations.
I remember that Google "listened to and reacted to" ciriticism before when it cames to their TOS (Adsense), and I think it's a good thing, that way too little companies do. And Google actively asked for feedback, so I hope that thoughtful ciriticism gets through and will be responded to. However I doubt that mass hysteria will be of any help.
|The point of view of a prospective Gmail user is not one I have seriously considered |
That's an honest answer. And after reading your linked-post, I can better understand your concerns. However when critizing another product the POV is really important.
You can of course argue, that gmail may hurt Bob if Bob's competitors might be able to reach Bob's customers. However the same could have been (and probably has been) said of ecommerce: Driving away profit from intermediaries, lowering financiel margins because of lower retail prices etc. Yet still I think we agree that these are not inherently "bad things" that have to be avoided (but as some people seem to think).
|As I summarise at the end of that post, if the policies on scanning email contents for profit changed and the confidentiality of my identity and those of people sending email to me were tightenned up it would seem to me as a different service altogether and one that a majority of internet users could probably support. |
That sounds a lot more reasonable than most of the supposedly serious articles and opinions you can read elsewhere, though. And that's what my original post was targeted at.
Personally I do not think that gmail is perfect, and there are several things that can be improved (e.g. reports about accessability), and from what I see, read and hear, some of those issues will be looked in to (they say). I guess time will show...
>>ThatAdamGuy, I'm amazed you're hearing balanced discussion anywhere. I expected the most balanced discussion at webmasterworld, haven't seen it yet (not even in the supporters forum) and when I went looking for it elsewhere I couldn't find it.
Orkut has some good rational discussion, a few blogs (pull it up from google), and /.
I just skimmed through the posts so I'm not sure if anyone has raised this question.
Has anyone considered that Gmail might just give you general Ads instead of targeted Ads if you don't want it to spider your emails?
|the ads aren't the problem - the archiving of "deleted" email is the problem. |
Maybe I'm totally wrong - but to me it looks like Google is only saying up front what all the others are doing anyway. I don't think anybody at yahoo will go back to their backup tapes and delete my old emails there when I decide to kill a couple of mails.
>>Has anyone considered that Gmail might just give you general Ads instead of targeted Ads if you don't want it to spider your emails?
Sure people have considered it. But that doesn't have anything to do with the main issue that many (including myself) object to. And that is the fact that the revenue Google would receive from an Adsense type system applied to email is not generated from the content created by Gmail users who signed up and agreed to Google's TOS.
It is generated off of content created by people sending email into Google's system. None of those people have agreed to any Google terms and conditions. And to me, that just isn't an appropriate thing to do.
Now if they were smart, they should come out an announce that the ad system will be reversed. They will scan and apply ads to outgoing email only. If someone wants to signup for an account and generate content that will have ads added to it in exchange for not having to pay for it, I'd have absolutely no problem with that.
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