Last week Google took a bold step by letting images load by default (no more “Display all Images”). One might wonder why the option existed in the first place and there is (or was) a very good reason why it did.

Images used in an email message are most commonly stored at a hosting server; which serves the images on request i.e. when a reader opens the message. This mechanism however can be exploited by spammers to plant malicious code on the reader’s machine, making it a very good reason to block images from all senders by default, and letting the reader decide which ones to load.

Google claims to have found a way to close this loophole by creating a filtering layer between the reader’s machine and the image hosting server. In other words, Google will now use internal proxy servers to request for images, host these images on Google Servers and finally serve images to the customer via Google’s internal network (in case nothing fishy is returned from the original hosting server)

As a Gmail User, this means that your inbox will now load images in all messages on its own and you’ll no longer have to click on “Display all Images”. If you are an Email Marketer, the repercussions may be a slightly different.

For starters, customers will now immediately see the entire email content (and not bits of it as before), since both text and images will load automatically. This in theory should translate into a better email experience for customers and create more opportunities for marketers to further improve email engagement.

On the other hand, Google will now intercept all interaction between the customer and marketer’s server; and effectively create a layer between the marketer and the customer. As a result it will no longer be possible to identify the geographic location, device information or multiple open behaviors of customers.

While this may prevent marketers to dynamically change the email content after sending the email, it will still allow them to target customer with geographic and device friendly content. As far as basic email tracking goes; open, click and conversion tracking will continue to work as before, with an exception to tracking multiple opens, which may no longer be possible. However, this would also mean that all opens are actually tracked (and not left out if someone did not select “Display all Images”) removing the discrepancy in numbers of unique openers & clickers.

While these changes in how Google delivers emails to customers may restrict marketers; it also creates opportunities for marketers to improve engagement, by making clever use of text and images.

Get in touch with us to find how you can make the most out of engagement with Gmail based customers.

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