Google announced this week that it will stop scanning the content of individual users GMail accounts for providing targeted advertising.
The long standing practice – in place since the launch of Gmail back in 2004 – saw the e-mail giant scan the messages of users in order to better tailor its advertising services to their interests, although it was not used on paid G Suite products.
Although users are able to opt-out, the practice has been long mired on controversy. A number of privacy and civil liberties organisations called on Google to suspend Gmail shortly after its launch until privacy issues surrounding scanning messages and targeted advertising could be addressed, saying that it “violates the implicit trust of an email service provider”.
In a post on the offical Google blog, SVP of Google Cloud Diane Greene said, “G Suite Gmail is already not used as input for ads, and Google has decided to follow suits later this year in our free consumer Gmail service.”
“This decision brings Gmail ads in line with how we personalize ads for other Google products.”
This change is aimed at helping alleviate concerns of business customers, who may have been unsure about the distinction between the paid (ad-free) and free (ad-enabled) versions of Gmail and the potential implications for corporate privacy.
Advertising will still be present in the free version of Gmail, but will be displayed as promoted messages inside a persons inbox. Google still employe a number of other methods to target advertising, such as a users search history and YouTube history.
Although Google offer a strong lineup of cloud products, they’ve struggled to gain traction in a market dominated by offerings from Microsoft and Amazon.
Formerly of virtualisation and cloud pioneer VMware, Greene was hired by Google in 2015 to help accelerate their entry into the fast-growing cloud business, announcing at the time they predict revenue from cloud-based services will surpass their advertising revenue by 2020.
Since then Google have invested heavily in boosting their cloud offerings.
A reported 60-percent of Fortune 500 businesses already used a corporate G Suite product, such as Gmail or Google Docs, however still remain behind Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Office365 and Azure platforms.