Microsoft Attacks Gmail with "Scroogled" Campaign
February 7, 2013 11:08 AM
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Microsoft's Scroogled campaign
The campaign tells email users that Google scans all sent and received emails for advertisement keywords
Microsoft is taking
a serious jab at Google's
Gmail service in a new campaign called "Don't Get Scroogled by Gmail."
Microsoft's "Scroogled" campaign is an effort to draw new customers to its own email service, Outlook -- and plans to do so by informing Internet users nationwide of Gmail's practices.
Microsoft is telling the nation that Google scans each email that is sent and received through the Gmail service for keywords that can help it target users with more accurate advertisements. Microsoft even commissioned a study, conducted by GfK Roper, where 70 percent of users were unaware of Google's email scanning and 88 percent disapproved of it once they knew.
“Emails are personal — and people feel that reading through their emails to sell ads is out of bounds,” said Stefan Weitz, senior director of Online Services at Microsoft. “We honor the privacy of our Outlook.com users, and we are concerned that Google violates that privacy every time an Outlook.com user exchanges messages with someone on Gmail. This campaign is as much about protecting Outlook.com users from Gmail as it is about making sure Gmail users know what Google’s doing.”
Microsoft will spread the news and its new word "Scroogled" all over TV, Internet and print advertisements. It even
launched a petition
to stop going through user emails for the sake of ad sales, where it has received nearly 600 signatures of the required 25,000 at the time this article was written.
Microsoft was even nice enough to offer a few examples of Google's practices.
"For example, if you write a friend to let her know you are separating from your husband, Google sells ads against this information to divorce lawyers, who post ads alongside it," said Microsoft. "Or if you ask a friend for vacation suggestions, Google uses this information to target you with ads from travel agencies or airlines that want your business."
There has been some tension between the two tech companies, as Microsoft
cried "antitrust" over a YouTube snub
last month. More specifically, the Redmond, Wash. tech giant was upset that Windows Phone still could not get a full YouTube app while the competition (Android and iOS) were able. It added that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was not doing enough to force Google to conform to antitrust laws (Google got out of a two-year FTC investigation with only a slap on the wrist).
Also, Google had filed a patent claim with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) against Microsoft that
would stop the Windows giant from applying video compression technology to the Xbox
video game console. While it dropped this patent claim against Microsoft last month, others are still pending.
You can check out Scroogled
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The Bottom Line
2/7/2013 11:50:43 PM
All major free webmail services carry advertising, and most of it is irrelevant to the people who see it. Google believes that showing relevant advertising offers more value to users than displaying random pop-ups or untargeted banner ads. In Gmail, users will see text ads and links to related pages that are relevant to the content of their messages. The links to related pages are similar to Google search results, and are culled from Google's extensive index of web pages. They are selected solely for their helpfulness and are not paid advertisements.
In Gmail, ads appear alongside messages, in the same way that ads appear next to search results on Google. Ads are clearly identified as 'Sponsored Links.' They are displayed in a way that doesn't interrupt users as they read their messages and ads are never inserted into the body text of either incoming or outgoing Gmail messages.
Ads and links to related pages only appear alongside the message that they are targeted to, and are only shown when the Gmail user, whether sender or recipient, is viewing that particular message. No email content or other personally identifiable information is ever shared with advertisers. In fact, advertisers do not even know how often their ads are shown in Gmail, as this data is aggregated across thousands of sites in the Google Network.
By offering Gmail users relevant ads and information related to the content of their messages, we aim to offer users a better webmail experience. For example, if you and your friends are planning a vacation, you may want to see news items or travel ads about the destination you're considering.
To ensure a quality user experience for all Gmail users, we avoid showing ads reflecting sensitive or inappropriate content by only showing ads that have been classified as "Family-Safe." Gmail's filters also block ads from running next to messages about catastrophic events or tragedies, erring on the side of not displaying an ad if the content is questionable.
Many people have found that the search-related ads on Google.com can be valuable--not merely a necessary evil, but a welcome feature. We believe that users will also find Gmail's ads and related pages to be helpful, because the information reflects their interests. In fact, we have already received positive feedback from Gmail users about the quality and usefulness of our ads and related pages
"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
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