Google’s Priority Inbox for Gmail may help you find the messages you’re interested in quicker, but it’s also a new source of personal preference information that the search giant can mine so as to show you more appealing adverts. Google has quietly announced a new push for “better ads in Gmail” which will take into account attention and interest in how it decides which contextual ads to display.
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“For example, if you’ve recently received a lot of messages about photography or cameras, a deal from a local camera store might be interesting. On the other hand if you’ve reported these messages as spam, you probably don’t want to see that deal” Google
Meanwhile, TechCrunch spotted that “Offers and coupons for your local area” are one of Google’s suggested uses for the new system, something Google itself claims isn’t yet operational but will eventually part of the local push. This could well be linked in with Google’s mobile payment plans.
The company is quick to point out that the service is all automated and no Google employees actually read your email, but it’s nonetheless likely to provoke the usual privacy arguments as users quail over the thought of their personal content being used to shape advertising. Usefully, then, there’s an opt-out control for those who have had the personalized advert system turned on, which allows them to shut down the so-called “importance signals.”