Google Images Now Showing

Gmail Image updateGoogle recently announced changes that will impact some Gmail users. What do these changes mean for email marketers?

What Changed?

Google is re-writing image links and effectively hosting them from their own “proxy” servers. Now, with the way Gmail handles images as a default, you will see email images automatically displayed on desktop, iOS and Android.

This will make email messages “more safe and secure, your images are checked for known viruses and malware, and you’ll never have to press that pesky display images below again,” as posted by Google on 12.12.2013.

What Does This Mean?

  • Previously, Gmail’s default was images OFF. Consequently, the standard method of tracking open rates, an image pixel, was inaccurate for Gmail users and as a result open rates reported were lower. With this new change images will be ON as a default, and the count of unique opens becomes more accurate. You will likely see an increase in unique open rates for Gmail users!
  • Tracking multiple open rates will not be impacted. The first open will be tracked and, while subsequent opens will pull the image from Google cache, our reporting will continue to track multiple opens.
  • Geo-location is impacted, however. With Google servers located in Mountain View, California, the geo-locator will not correctly provide information about where the open took place.
  • Device tracking, where users open on an iPhone and Android, is unaffected. When opened using a Gmail webapp or phone app, the open will report Firefox 3 as the client.

More Information

Remember that unique opens and unique link clicks are not impacted.

You can exclude the Gmail data manually by segmenting your Gmail contacts into a separate address book before you send your campaigns. This may help you isolate new Gmail metric trends from your overall analytics.

Other Resources

Tim Watson at Zettasphere, Google Gmail change Breaks Email Open Tracking

Jason Rodriguez at Litmus, Gmail Adds Image Caching: What You Need to Know

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