The Gmail Man: Microsoft Parody Video Makes Fun of Gmail Ad System

Microsoft created a mildly amusing parody video making fun of the Google Gmail system of looking at the content of your email and producing targeted ads based on the content. While the video is kind of funny, it highlights a variation in the approaches Google takes versus Microsoft.

Being an advertising company, Google produces products designed to get as many eyeballs on their ads as possible. Microsoft sells software and advertising is a sideline item. An Office 365 subscription is the Microsoft competitor to Google’s Google Apps and costs a minimum of $6/month for small businesses. A limited free version costs nothing for Windows Live users.

The Gmail Man video was designed to inspire their employees responsible for promoting the Office 365 product. According to ZDNet the video was leaked by one attendee at the Microsoft Global Exchange conference where the video was shown. When asked if the video was legitimate, Microsoft’s official response was “no comment.”

Gmail man strikes a nerve even with those of us who like Gmail. The ads shown often fail to match the content. In the video Gmail mentions itching and burning to a lady user and offers up an ad for some ointment. She replies that the keywords had nothing to with a bodily problem. Often the ads I saw early on with Gmail had nothing to do with the content of my messages. However, I have also gotten very good at ignoring every one of the ads so the matching may be better now at matching content with ads, but I wouldn’t know.

Here is the video:

If having a computer scan your email to serve up ads related to keywords it finds in the message bothers you, do not use Gmail. If, like many of us, you don’t care; Gmail is an excellent source of free email for you individually or your small business. You save the expense of setting up a Microsoft Exchange server or paying Microsoft for the use of their Office 365 service.

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The ads Google serves up come from matching the content of your messages with the keywords advertisers buy. That is their business and as a long time Gmail user I don’t have a problem with it. For an alternative view, read Paul Thurrot’s piece in which he calls the ad “the single greatest Microsoft ad ever made” and explains that it is not really an ad but an internal video meant for the company’s employees and not public consumption. Microsoft should know that in the Internet age of Wikileaks, they to know it would eventually get out.

Source: ZDNet

  

Comments

  1. JM says

    It is funny.  I’m actually surprised that there hasn’t been a major uproar about this, especially in other countries outside of the USA.  I think we’ve all become rather complacent.

  2. Anonymous says

    At least it is right out there.  Much more acceptable than hiring a PR firm to do a whisper campaign to stir up the tinfoil-hat club numbers.

    • No says

      False comparison. Microsoft’s actions involve a whisper AD CAMPAIGN; Google’s involve a whisper CONSTANT SEARCHING THROUGH YOUR E-MAIL. Apples and oranges.

      • Anonymous says

        Well, for one that is not the comparison I was drawing and for another whispering has nothing to do with reading so the comparison is not only not false but I never made it reference to what you’ve said.
        Also – what google does is not done slyly.
        So any reference to them doing it in a secretive way does not make much sense at all.
        By your statement I assume you do not use gmail anyway, so why do you care exactly?

        • No says

          * You were comparing. (“Much more acceptable than” is an indicator of comparison)
          * I use gmail.
          * I care because too many people get away with shallowly rhetorically appealling but deeply structurally flawed comparisons. Equating one company’s ad campaign with another’s e-mail mining process is nonsensical. You want a free pass because you were taking a shot a MSFT and defending google. Oh well. It was a bad point to make.
          * I don’t think as many people realize what google actually does to generate e-mail ads as you think.
          * I’ll admit, I don’t think it matters that much — I think this campaign by MSFT is too little too late — gmail has been doing this for several years; it’s all automated; this is scare-mongering at its (refined and quasi-viral) worst.

          Have a nice weekend.

        • No says

          * You were comparing. (“Much more acceptable than” is an indicator of comparison)
          * I use gmail.
          * I care because too many people get away with shallowly rhetorically appealling but deeply structurally flawed comparisons. Equating one company’s ad campaign with another’s e-mail mining process is nonsensical. You want a free pass because you were taking a shot a MSFT and defending google. Oh well. It was a bad point to make.
          * I don’t think as many people realize what google actually does to generate e-mail ads as you think.
          * I’ll admit, I don’t think it matters that much — I think this campaign by MSFT is too little too late — gmail has been doing this for several years; it’s all automated; this is scare-mongering at its (refined and quasi-viral) worst.

          Have a nice weekend.

        • Anonymous says

          I don’t seem to be able to reply directly to you again @4c8a9bec5a27b66b28d3c5cddeb70e93:disqus so I’ll do it here.

          My original comment was not comparing the MS vid to Gmail mining.
          I was referencing facebook hiring a PR firm to run a whisper campaign against google recently.
          I was comparing that with this MS vid.
          Or contrasting, as it were.

          The tinfoil-hat club members being the people who think somebody at google is actually sitting and reading their mail – because their mail is so important and all.

          You have a nice weekend too.

      • Anonymous says

        I don’t seem to be able to reply directly to you again @4c8a9bec5a27b66b28d3c5cddeb70e93:disqus so I’ll do it here.

        My original comment was not comparing the MS vid to Gmail mining.
        I was referencing facebook hiring a PR firm to run a whisper campaign against google recently.
        I was comparing that with this MS vid.
        Or contrasting, as it were.

        The tinfoil-hat club members being the people who think somebody at google is actually sitting and reading their mail – because their mail is so important and all.

        You have a nice weekend too.

  3. Cynthia Bugsey says

    I want a Gmail googleman SHIRT… can Microsoft please send me one? Now this is an idea for my T-shirt store, please get in touch with me IF you wanna give me your patent/rights to produce this GMAIL MAN shirt. I love it (the shirt) and it would be good business. 

  4. Alan Robertson says

    Meh, can’t say I’ve ever clicked on an ad in Gmail, barely even notice them – unlike the intrusive ads that go at the bottom of Hotmail messages!

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