So Google is up to changing things with Gmail again this week.

This time there are likely both good and bad things in the mix for email marketers.

So in short Google is now going to STOP asking you if you want to open images within your emails.  If there is an image in an email Google will scan it for malware and viruses and now load that image without asking you if it is OK.  This is HUGE as the way that most email marketing platforms operate [MailChimp – Constant Contact etc.] is to measure the “opening” of an email by a subscriber by counting the opening of a pixel image within that email.  So in theory if you had a subscriber just open your email but NOT load the images within that email then that would not necessarily show as a unique “open” and count to open rates etc.  So basically everyone’s open rates ONLY refer to those that open an email and open the images within that email.  Make sense?

Gmail Changes Image

 

So . . . first – the “GOOD” News.

This means that now any user that you email that is using Gmail will have the images within that email “auto-load” therefore giving you a more accurate count on who opens your emails and the total number of unique opens – eliminating the issue of a user opening an email but not enabling the opening of the images and therefore not counting as an open within your email marketing system.  This is a good thing.

Then the “BAD” News.

Because Google will be loading these images from their own proxy servers the data on “multiple opens” and likely some of the geotargeting will be less transparent than it was.  Since Google will be loading the images from their servers and not the computer that the user is reading the email on this could create some interesting reports.

Obviously since thi

And as a quick note on why this is even important:  The number of “Gmail” users – which would be their free accounts as of the last numbers I could find were estimated at more 475 million as of June of 2012 and they also advertise another 5 million Google Business Mail users as well – so this is at the very least a significant portion of your likely subscribers.s isn’t even full out yet many of the email marketing platform providers are scrambling to untangle what this all means for features that had previously been based on data that may not be available at all or will likely show Google Server info.  So, this will continue to be a bit of a cat and mouse game, so be sure to stay tuned to what your email service provider is doing and how accurate certain streams of data are going forward.

Here is a link to the official Google announcement from yesterday.

http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2013/12/images-now-showing.html

Gmail Announces Changes to Image Opening Defaults

 

 

 

 

And here is a good blog post (with some great Q&A in the comments section at the bottom) from MailChimp on what they are already seeing in their testing.

http://blog.mailchimp.com/how-gmails-image-caching-affects-open-tracking/

Gmail Changes Images Default