Google is rolling out a new ad system for Gmail that will guess what you’re interested in, based on the emails you’ve read and sent in the past.Showing more relevant ads could help Gmail make more money from consumers. Today, Gmail’s main business purpose is a showcase for Google’s enterprise apps.
Previously, Gmail only looked at the words in the message that users were currently reading. This led to some embarrassingly off-topic ads.
The new system will look at your emails over time and figure out what you’re interested in. For instance, if you and your friends recently exchanged a flurry of emails about The Breslin in New York, Gmail might guess you’re interested in restaurants.
On the other end, if you always ignore email about music or cast it into the spam bucket, Gmail probably won’t show you ads for the latest Radiohead album.
Google will also take your location into account when serving up the ads.
The company quietly began informing some Gmail users about the planned change today, and announced it in an update to the Gmail Security centre — not in a public blog post, as it often announces new features.
The low profile is probably because Google knows users will be concerned about privacy. But the company insists that the email is never read by humans — only computers — and that personally identifiable information from your Gmail account is never shared with advertisers.
Plus, Gmail has been showing ads based on the content of emails since 2004, so it’s not exactly a new development.
If you’re still paranoid, you can turn off the feature through a new radio button that will soon appear on the Gmail Settings page:
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