Yesterday, Microsoft announced a new ad campaign aimed at Google users who may be uncomfortable with some of the recent changes Google has made to its products and privacy policies. Google quickly responded to Microsoft's charges by labeling them myths, but that's not stopping Microsoft from announcing the next ad in this campaign today, together with a video featuring "Gmail Man." While the original "Putting People First" ad was very broad and highlighted Hotmail, Office 365, Internet Explorer and Bing as potential alternatives to Google's services, today's part of the campaign focuses solely on Gmail and Google Apps.
According to Microsoft's VP for corporate communications Frank X. Shaw, the company is running these ads to "remind those folks that they have a choice when it comes to internet software and services, and we’ve got some great alternatives for them."
"Sometimes when a person really loves their Gmail…"
Today, Microsoft argues that Google is reading your email – and to heighten the sense of urgency here, Shaw also notes that even if you are not a Google user, the company will still read the content of your email by just sending a message to somebody who is.
As if the ad wasn't enough, though, Microsoft also launched a video to go with the ad, featuring "Gmail Man," who has a penchant for reading your email and "has his nose in every colon." Maybe the best line from the ad: "Sometimes when a person really loves their Gmail very, very much, the two get together, and an ad is born." Until now, this video was only available internally at Microsoft.
The video, of course, is hosted on YouTube…
Google answered this charge yesterday by noting that "no one reads your email but you" and that Google's computers just analyze your email to target ads and check for malware, spam and phishing attempts. Indeed, this is probably one of Microsoft's weakest attacks, though Shaw already anticipated this argument and notes that "they may call it “scanning” and attempt to equate it with less invasive activities like “checking for spam” but it’s quite different. For you, and the people you send mail to, it’s not spam, it’s personal."
Microsoft also argues that given that most people never log out of their email service, Google can track and link all your Internet searches with your identity, just as the YouTube videos you watch are now cross-indexed with your Google account.
The basic argument here is that Google now makes it harder for people to control their private information now that Google has consolidated its various privacy policies into one document.