Google’s use of its Gmail service for ad targeting has never been a secret, but now Gmail’s individual consumers will get the same perks as those who pay for its premium business features. On Friday, June 23, Google announced that it would stop scanning personal emails for keywords to sell targeted ads, offering some relief for those worried about advertisers’ access to personal information. While this has long been a perk of G Suite, Google’s business email plan, Google wants to align its consumer email with its business options, much to the delight of Gmail users.
While Gmail will no longer scan users’ emails to deliver ads, that does not mean they will not cease scanning emails altogether. Other features offered by Google, such as the Smart Reply function, will still need to view content in order to provide individuals with the automated responses, generated by its artificial intelligence algorithms. Currently, this feature is available in both English and Spanish, and its responses make up roughly 12% of mobile Gmail responses. Google supports this feature not only for Android but also for IOS. Now, the company is also in the process of developing other features that would scan email using its artificial intelligence.
Gmail will still, however, use other means of delivering targeted ads to its users. Other methods, such as recent searches, videos they have watched or searched for from YouTube, and browsing history when logged into a Gmail account on Chrome will still be used to deliver ads. Thankfully, it is possible to opt out of targeted ads by changing the settings regarding ads and privacy.
Google’s policy with ads has often been criticized due to privacy concerns. Numerous individuals and organizations remain concerned about the information Google gathers, but their privacy options can disable features other than just ad targeting. It also allows users to disable location tracking, third-party cookies, and prompting you to accept or deny a website’s request for specific information.
With Gmail being the biggest email provider for both businesses and consumers after only starting in 2004, this change in data policy offers a sigh of relief to those who have no need to pay for its services. Since the company was having problems retaining customers for its business plans, it chose instead to level the playing field for everyone. Now, both individuals and businesses can enjoy the same perks, making the service even more desirable to all.