• http://oswco.com dartdog

    Google apps offers an ad free experience to paid accounts, and administering a large Google apps set up is no horror show, really quite nice. way easier than Exchange…..And it is only $50/per user per year way less than $20/per month…

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    As someone who has a Google Apps account solely to have email in my own name, sorry, it is a horror show. I’m subjected to having to make decisions over a wide range of Google services I don’t want through that account. It’s also $20 per year with Outlook for an ad-opt out, not per month.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jack-N-Fran-Farrell/100002337622505 Jack N Fran Farrell

    Gmail and Search have https encryption around transmissions. They could reside in encrypted form on Google server farms as we speak. Google will let you use double encryption keys on your stuff and Google never passes your name or identifier to an advertiser. As an expert in rank order statistics for big data, Google provides a rank order list of users, advertisers can bid to ship ads. Anonymous auctions work efficiently at bringing people who want help deciding what to buy together with companies that are willing to sell them what they have in stock. What’s wrong with that?

    I for one am glad that Google has thought through what it is doing well enough so that its algorithms reflect an efficient (low margin) approach to market making.

  • install_gentoo

    Sorry, Microsoft. I trust you less than I trust Google, and that’s saying something.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Amy-Blankenship/743874381 Amy Blankenship

    I don’t understand why you think it’s contradictory to both say they shouldn’t scan mail for targeting and that there should be an opt-out. Clearly, in the case where an opt-out is needed, as you noted, the email IS being scanned in this way. Expecting a different result is like expecting them to say “No it’s not ok for you to do this, but since you’re going to, don’t let me say no.”

  • Nickan Fayyazi

    I’m pretty sure Gmail actually _asked_ me whether or not I wanted “personalized” ads, and I was able to easily opt out _without_ paying. I don’t know where Microsoft is getting this information,

  • http://www.newportessentials.com/ paco cornholio

    I’m a paid Apps user, too, and I can’t recall having to make decisions for any service I didn’t want. There used to be obscure settings to enable mobile access, but note even those have been relocated and given the right default settings.

  • http://twitter.com/andrewpriceau Andrew Price

    “A smart move by Google would be to do the same” – yeah I dont think it would be smart… I dont think Google have to compete with Microsoft in this space. As other have pointed out – if you want a non advert version – move to Google Apps. This is a non issue

  • SHaGGGz

    I know that some people are paranoid about any algorithms scanning their private information, but framing the lack of ads that are more likely to be personally relevant to you as a selling point is pretty ridiculous.

  • http://twitter.com/davegirouard Dave Girouard

    Google Apps wasn’t designed for you to have a custom email address on your personal email. It was created to allow organizations to use gmail, calendar, docs etc as an organizational tool/platform.

  • zato

    Microsoft’s close ties to Satan and the New World Order worry me much more than anything Google is doing.

  • roselan

    You are as pathetic as Microsoft to report their crap. At least you do a little more than just their PR, I guess.

    I would not be surprised if MS doesn’t scan them too, or worse give access them to some external “anti-spam” company (ie, some marketing company).

    btw, people still don’t use adblock?

  • Pete Austin

    Revolting smear tactics by Microsoft, using a biased push-poll, implying that Google are somehow unique in scanning emails. In fact, Microsoft’s Webmail clients such as Hotmail have also been scanning emails for over 10 years, with no opt-out. And quite right too, because like everyone else they want to block spam.

  • CrossWired

    You’d rather put your faith in the fat bald chair throwing mafioso instead?

  • http://www.pelicancards.com/ David Bennett

    Does MS’s “You won’t see ads based on keywords from your personal email” mean they don’t scan emails?

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    The campaign is going to be pretty wide, from a major company, slamming another one. That’s noteworthy and, hopefully, worth helping to split the fact from the fiction for consumers.

  • Frogbox

    If Microsoft were really concerned about privacy, it’d go after Facebook… but Facebook’s a very important Microsoft partner.

    As a consumer, I just see this as inept Microsoft blustering, more pitiable than effective.

  • http://alexwebmaster.com/ Alex Garrido

    Well, after all it is a free service… so … why complain? If you want privacy and complete ownership about your email content, try one of the many premium email service providers.

  • PStrohm

    One word, classless. As always.

  • http://twitter.com/tropicmon Dr. Bill

    What kind of nonsense are you pushing here? Satan?

    Here’s a tip: Wear a tin foil hat and you will be invisible to Satan

  • http://twitter.com/tropicmon Dr. Bill

    I don’t really care much about Google’s computers scanning for keywords, but I do mind that in the last year Google Search has taken a nose dive in terms of quality of results.

    I don’t want to see results for what Google THINKS I am looking for – I want to see the best results for EXACTLY the terms I entered.

    Bing is now doing a much better job of delivering that.

  • oandroido

    I can’t help but feel that Ballmer is trying to divert negative attention away from Windows 8. Remember Windows 8?

    It had something to do with dancing employees, or eeking monkeys, or something.

  • PlumbSearcher

    I do not like M$ and their products and I do not like negative campaigns but I have to admit that concern of gmail privacy are very big one. Google does use text of my gmails for contextual ads and to do it it certainly extracts and memorizes my interests from my email and associates them with my Google account. I never asked them to do it and I do not want anybody to extract my interests from my emails. Certainyl they do it not because they want to know what I like but because their want to earn money on money, it does not matter. I do not want them to do it. M$ is fair in this case.

  • http://twitter.com/lwabbit22 Lwabbit22

    So it’s okay for Microsoft to Scrooge people, but it’s not okay for Google?

    “Microsoft also has said it shows ads in Outlook.com tailored to the subject lines of emails.”


  • Idealogue

    I am no Google fan, but from the very beginning Google was open about how their email service was subject to content scanning for ad placements. What you got was unlimited storage space, ..now not much of a hook.
    If you do not get that Google uses everything they can get from you, and that nothing is private from them when using any of their services by now, you have been asleep for the past 7 years. I doubt MS or Apple are any different.

  • Idealogue

    $50/yr is still a jip. A domain name for $10/yr gives you access to a personal, private email with lots of space for usually less than $15/yr. Many places offer this. $25/yr done, and you have the option to put up a web page to boot.

  • Rod Eccles

    I, too was taken aback by this statement. It makes 100% logical sense to want an opt out in this case even if you say you don’t believe they should be doing it in the first place. The thing is that you can say, like I do, that Google, Facebook, Yahoo or whomever, should NOT be scanning what you believe should be private email for anything. AND that if they do such things, one should be able to opt out. The real question is, do the other email services do the same thing? I was considering migrating to gmail, but now I think I will pass.

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    And what if you search “pizza”, do you want the history of pizza? pizza recipes? pizza businesses? pizza entomology? types of pizza? Your intent could be completely different than someone elses intent for the query “pizza”. You think it makes more sense to not utilize any other personalized signals to try and contextually target that query better?

  • narg

    Both of you are idiots. Neither company is bad, just in business to make money. And they will never use the information for negative reasons. I dare you to prove they will. You can’t, sorry, but you can’t.

  • zato

    Thanks for the tip, Dr. Bill. I’m wearing one now!

  • http://www.facebook.com/guillaume.tanguay.5 Guillaume Tanguay

    This is totally ridiculous

  • http://twitter.com/mattwallaert matt wallaert

    (NOTE: I work as a behavioral scientist at Bing, so please view my comments accordingly.)

    Danny seems unconvinced that scanning for security and scanning for ads are different. But imagine you go to the doctor and they do a blood test. It is OK for them to use that blood test to keep you healthy; it is not OK for them to use it to target ads. Context really matters, especially on privacy issues.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stepanova Veronica Antonova

    Wow… low. Gmail is great. User can control own privacy settings. This is a low blow for MS… Probably work of PR, not the engineering leadership that knows better.

  • Henry Tirebiter

    So, here’s a big Microsoft Office 365 security hole: Login to their “super-secure office 365” trash that can barely stay online in comparison to Google Apps and then shutdown your browser. Reopen your browser and watch it go back to the Microsoft Application sans login-prompt. (presumes you have a fairly modern browser that can remember to pickup where it *crashed* – even though you caused the shutdown). Have been doing this off and on for over the wonderful two-year insecurity experiment of this being in use, and am amazed that they have no clues about Software as a Service at all. Salesforce gets it right and stops you with a login prompt, as do other SaaS providers – but not Office 365. It lets you right back in, pretty as you please, without warning you or stopping you at all. Are you really secure with this tool? No. Your data is insecure and in the clear, and if you think otherwise, well can I sell you a bridge over the river in the middle of the Sahara?

  • linkedout_mod

    It’s pretty easy to opt out of the targeted ads, it’s under Ads Preferences in your Google Account settings. I doubt it stops the scanning of emails, but you do get generic ads instead of personalised ones. You can also block specific advertisers if they offend you.

  • Scott Leighton

    _ Personally, what might get me to switch from Gmail to Outlook would be if Outlook had IMAP support._

    Where’s that coming from? Outlook has had imap support forever.

  • http://twitter.com/Bigjaunt Tyler John

    “Of course, some of the answers are contradictory. How is it that email users can both believe that emails shouldn’t be scanned for ad targeting purposes AND also think there should be an opt-out, at practically the same high percentage? If so many agree there should be an opt-out, then when you think about it, they’re not opposed that type of targeting as long as an opt-out is provided.”

    That just seems like wretched logic. Those participants had to answer the questions on the survey one way or another… would you have preferred if they answered that there should not be an opt-out? If they answered “yes” the author would come to the above conclusion, and if they answered “no” the author would probably conclude that they’re awfully confused because they don’t even want the opportunity to opt-out. The mindset here was likely that the consumer wants every way out of this possible, not necessarily that they are okay with their emails being scanned as long as an opt-out is provided.

  • http://twitter.com/Bigjaunt Tyler John

    I dare you to prove they won’t. Sorry, but that doesn’t seem provable either. Given even the mere possibility that they could use information for negative reasons ought to give us some pause and thought of consideration.

  • http://twitter.com/gary_davis Gary Davis

    This coming from Microsoft that will not provide me the ability to use a complex password, such as a paraphrase, never mind two-factor authentication. I can use both at Google.

  • http://twitter.com/AceFormula Kevin Breault

    Very very few companies truly benefit from campaigns like this…

  • Piyush

    Microsoft fails to understand that ‘reading’ by a machine and reading by a human are different. Also, Bing itself does a personalized search. That is privacy invasion again. How about MS works to better its own email service rather than carrying out these cheap negative campaigns?

  • SomeKnowledge

    Based on my previous conversations with Google: the data is not encrypted, it is only dispersed on multiple servers. Also, about https: this only means that the data while it is transferred from your computer to Google server is encrypted, however it is not being encrypted after it was saved on the Google server.

  • David Hebert

    WE only use Gmail to collect emails forwarded from specific people while not in the office, it beats having to wade though several email accounts when there is no need. I log off of any service like Google Bing Facebook, etc when I am done using that particular service. If I need to Google for just straight info I use a browser that is only used for that purpose like IE or Safari. There are tools to hide who you are and where you are if one needs that sort of invisibility

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    It’s convoluted logic because it’s a convoluted survey.

    Question 7 asks if this is a practice that “should not be allowed” with the only choices being Yes, No or Don’t Know. Then question 8 asks if it should be allowed with an opt-out.

    What you ideally do is ask Question 7 with the options of Yes, No, Yes, With Opt-Out and Don’t Know. If that was done, then you’d probably have a big chunk of people, perhaps a majority, who don’t think it’s a problem at all, as long as there’s an opt-out.

    But doing it that way doesn’t allow you to have a stat showing that so many people hate the practice, which is part of the goal in how the survey was constructed.

    The two questions separately suggest that people don’t mind Gmail targeting as long as there’s an opt-out (which there is). But since they weren’t asked as a single question, that gets lost.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Outlook, the software from Microsoft, does support IMAP and thus works beautifully that way with Gmail.

    Outlook.com, the online email service from Microsoft, does not support IMAP, so if you want to interact that way using Outlook the software, you’re out of luck.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    No, you’ll still get personalized ads in the sense they’ll be personalized to the personal emails you’re reading, the content within them.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    I didn’t say I was unconvinced about this at all. I said that both service “read” your email, which is important to note when Microsoft is making such a focus on how “reading” is all bad. Then I explained that when it comes to security issues, Microsoft doesn’t view reading in that case to be wrong. And fair enough.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    There’s a link to the actual survey in the story.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Microsoft has said elsewhere they don’t do this. If that turns out to be true, that they scan subject lines, yes, that’s going to be a big issue for them.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    So why are you using Gmail?

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    It’s self-evidently contradictory for someone to say something is wrong but then say it’s not wrong.

    The reason that happens in this survey is because respondents were never given a chance to qualify when they though something was wrong.

    If the question had been something like “Is scanning emails to target ads wrong” with answer choices of Yes, No and No, If You Can Opt-Out, you’d likely have far fewer saying it was wrong. But that’s not option that was offered.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Only Google does this type of targeting. There are opt-outs, as described above. If you don’t want to use those, or find those hard to use, then another service definitely makes sense.

  • Scott Leighton

    Ahh, got it. Thanks for clearing that up I was not aware the online version didn’t have it.

  • rich

    You know what 100% of Office 365 users can agree upon? 1. The services crashes too often 2. Communication during these events are horrid. Perhaps MS should redirect budget to fixing these core issues first. Reminds me of a saying about those that live in “glass houses”…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ian-Ray/30902884 Ian Ray

    It takes literally 5 seconds to opt-out. I haven’t since I actually like having money-saving deals served to me as unobstrusive text ads about subjects I am interested in.

  • Rajesh Magar

    It looks weird that such two big tech company fighting like old married couple. But anyway we all knows this the part of the business..they are just trying to keep their presence in your life.

  • http://twitter.com/GrantMVP GrantMVP

    Thanks for bringing attention to the topic of email privacy Danny. There are online email services that do a better job of privacy and security than both GMail and Outlook.com. I do not want to advertise them by name but there are popular email services out there that encrypt the actual content of emails by default. GMail and Outlook.com are not the only show in town ;)

  • S Coetzer

    Nobody is holding a gun to your head, saying you must use Gmail. People has the right to choose. If you need secure email, get your content encrypted.

    My work email (Microsoft product) duplicates my email and keep the duplicate on our work email servers for min 10 years (IT policy). With Gmail, where is the duplication ? Gmail gives you the freedom to control your own account.

  • Maskeladden

    Now grab a roll of aluminium foil, lie flat on the floor, and the roll around in it. Its the only way to be sure.

  • http://twitter.com/willbrittontech Will Britton

    Survey shows that most people aren’t pro “invasion” of privacy and implies that most people aren’t pro having ads forced down their throats.

    Well big surprise.

    Question is: do people feel strongly enough about those things to switch email provider.
    I hate being personally exposed to ads (and thereby targeted ads), but I love my Gmail account and I’m never going to give it up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wouterlockefeer Wouter Lockefeer

    You imply that Google is fighting back. Microsoft started this campaign and Google has only calmly responded so far. So no fighting like an old married couple. More like a hobo throwing beer bottles at someone’s window, waking up the neighborhood.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wouterlockefeer Wouter Lockefeer


    Thanks for posting this. I think a lot of people were thinking exactly the same.

  • Rajesh Magar

    Don’t get me wrong brother. My point is just these are common things happening around at any industry in the world. And we guys are their audience.

  • PStrohm

    I’m just wondering why a brilliant scientist like you are still staying in a company that are so focused on smearing it’s competitor. Even if you say you are just informing, but you are not telling the whole truth. Like, Gmail is using algorithm to scan email, but your advertisement showing people reading emails from Gmail which is quite deceiving. This is lying by omission, which is the prime motives of your campaign, to deceive people against Gmail.

  • Sophie

    How bad can it really be to have your e-mails scanned if it’s to provide a better service to their customer? I agree there should be an opt out, but I think people need to stop being so emotional. It’s not like somebody was sitting there reading each e-mail individually. Looking at it more closely e-mails are also the best source of information that can probably be used in oder to target ads – It is proven to be the most honest form of communication nowadays, as opposed to social media, text messaging and others in which we apparently lie a lot. If anything it gives a better reflexion of who we really are, so why not use it to our advantage?

    Going back to Microsoft behaviour, would I trust anyone who in order to prove their ‘goodness’ need to highlight another company flaws? No, thanks. If they were that great, they would probably focus on highlighting their own success. But what worries me the most is why is that not obvious for a company that historically had so much impact on us and is still full of extremely talented people? Sorry Microsoft, it feels that I was just too close to love you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonstorey Jon Storey

    Good comment but as a service provider they shouldn’t be any charge for opting out of this. I would simply not use their service.

  • Matthew Futter

    Very well-written article! I was surprised by the transparency of Microsoft’s careful phrasing, “Outlook is different. We don’t go through your email to sell ads.” No denial of going through it, no statement of better service, no statement of anything; just “different”. That is an extremely narrow and specific comment that just screams “red flag”. My caution would go through the roof if I saw that notice anywhere, even without the supporting article here. Thanks for sharing this!

  • http://sarugu.com/ Albert

    Ooops to Microsoft. Super +1 to Google.

    I don’t know why they are attacking the competition instead
    of Innovating based on the compared features. If Microsoft opted for innovation method, we
    may enjoy its better Bing Search Engine and Outlook email service.

    I like Outlook .com email very much. But I don’t like they
    serve banner ads in the sidebar. Banner ads can be dangerous than text
    ads; Who knows, a hacker can buy an ad
    space in Outlook .com and spread the malware and it can read our personal
    message; This cannot be noticed by Microsoft. :(

    Email is Gmail and it is Free for forever.

  • http://sarugu.com/ Albert

    Well said Danny Sullivan.

    But I don’t suggest Google to offer paid plan in order to remove ads for $20 or more. Those users can select a paid plan at Google Apps.

  • http://houseofsem.pl/ Marcela

    googlelighting guy was hilarious. this is lame

  • Jack Reed

    Totally FAKE! Mostly lies. The original campaign, that is. “No ‘easy’ way to opt out.” There is a button in your ads settings that let’s you do that quite easily, of course, the alternative is to only show ads that may or may not be relevant to your life or needs/wants. Google techies don’t actually read your messages personally, they have essentially brainless spiders, that don’t retain information.

  • Jack Reed

    Also: thre are plenty of applets for both chrome and Firefox (maybe IE, but since its Microsoft, I wouldn’t count on it) that will replace the ads with other, non-message related content, such as contact info for the person that sent you the email. Lots of opt-outs.