On Thursday, December 12, 2013 John Rae-Grant, Google's Product Manager, made a post announcing yet another change from the stables of Google. In the post simply titled: "Images Now Showing" John Rae-Grant said,
"Have you ever wondered why Gmail asks you before showing images in emails? We did this to protect you from unknown senders who might try to use images to compromise the security of your computer or mobile device.
But thanks to new improvements in how Gmail handles images, you’ll soon see all images displayed in your messages automatically across desktop, iOS and Android. Instead of serving images directly from their original external host servers, Gmail will now serve all images through Google’s own secure proxy servers. "
That indeed seems to be good news for Gmail users - Google cares about your privacy!
But, marketers are seeing it in a different light.
As expected, the debate is on. Is this another way of Google "muzzling" email marketers and forcing them into using more paid advertising just as they are trying to do with search engine marketing or is it truly because of users' privacy?
Change Could Be for Good or....
Of course, for every change there would always be some form of disadvantage. And for this change, one of the drawbacks is the fact that it takes away the ability of marketers to track email metrics. For example, since Gmail users do not have to click on "display images below" to show images in their inbox, the user's info (like location, device type and date and time on which the email was read) which previously were transmitted to the email marketer through such actions, will no longer be sent.
Considering this, those who believe that Google is muzzling email marketers may be correct. But looked at from another angle, it does really appear that this change will make email marketing more result oriented. In fact, it is an indication that Google is pushing email towards a more social platform than what we have seen!
We mustn't forget the fact that in 2011 Google announced the integration of Gmail and Google+ enabling users to add contacts to their Google+ circles and also share content with them right from Gmail. Besides, we should remember also that visual content presentation is the vogue online right now. Showing images in Gmail therefore is just a way of keeping up with the times!
And, I dare say, we may be seeing a new design layout for Gmail very soon!
The Positive Side of "Image Now Showing"
Despite the hard knocks this change is receiving from marketers, I personally welcome it. I've actually wished for it before now.
Many a time when I send out email notifications of new blog posts and product posts and I receive those emails in my inbox, I was always disappointed because of the image not displaying. Frankly, without the image the message usually look awkward. And if that was coming from me what were recipients saying?
This is one of the biggest reasons why, to me, this change is actually a positive one for marketers. With this new change it is definitely clear that we can now add some more visual appeal to our email promotions.
Also, the fact that with the integration of Gmail and Google+ you can easily +1 an image share it with your Google+ circles right from your inbox, this change is something we must take seriously. Including a visual appealing image in your email is definitely going to be a powerful tactic of making our promotions go viral. Of course, Google has already made this easy and quick with the addition of the green hover share button within your Gmail inbox!
Marketers Should Really Take Advantage of This Change
Rather than talk down on this new image change, marketers should find more profitable ways of taking advantage of it. One of such ways is by using more appealing images in email sends. It is a fact that email is one of the most popular platforms used by people online. It is also more personal than most other platforms (social media or blogs). If that is the case, a change that gives you the ability to better connect with your email contacts is really a good one.
I see very soon marketers using funny images to push their marketing messages. And where this is used well it could signal a really viral promotion for any product or service.
It doesn't matter what the intention of Google is, marketers can always find ways of making this work for them. So, as marketers we can really say, Google thank you!
Or, do you have a different view of this new "image now showing" update from Google? Will love to know your views.