I missed this article during the hustle and bustle of Christmas, and I’m thinking that was what Google hoped would happen. I’m sure they hoped people would be too distracted to see the news that Google was going to ruin email marketing to Gmail users. Here’s the important part of the article:
“…Google has just announced a move that will […] cache all images for Gmail users. Embedded images will now be saved by Google, and the e-mail content will be modified to display those images from Google’s cache, instead of from a third-party server. E-mail marketers will no longer be able to get any information from images…”
So what? Well, just like [not provided], Google is disconnecting marketers from their target audience and effectively making them blind to a very important piece of data: open rate. When marketing emails are opened their images are downloaded from the email marketing company’s server with a special image call. The special image call sends back information about you including your IP, email address, a timestamp, etc. That tells the email marketing company that you opened an email and viewed their offer which gives them an “open rate”. Since Google is going to cache all images on their own servers and display the cached images in Gmail, the email marketing company will no longer receive information about who has opened their emails and will no longer get good “open rate” information. With an email campaign it’s really important to understand the number of people who opened an email vs. the number of people who clicked a link. Since Google is going to cache the images, the only way the email marketing company can tell if someone has opened their email is if they click a link which makes Gmail’s open rate equal to click through rate. If those two are equal it’s difficult to say if the email marketing company provided a compelling message because they won’t really know how many people opened an email vs. how many people engaged with it.
In a digital age, those who control the data, control the world.