Don’t Get Scroogled

Reading Google’s privacy policy reminded me of Microsoft’s recent ad campaign “Don’t Get Scroogled” trying to get people switch to outlook.com using privacy as a selling point.

The campaign includes newspaper ads, billboards and videos ranging from creepy,very creepy, and sometimes funny, very funny (or as funny as an ad made by Microsoft can get).

As part of the ad campaign Microsoft has a petitioned to get Google to stop reading email to sell ads which has gotten over 100,000+ people sign it.

Microsoft has comment on the ad campain saying

“Privacy of email services is a fair subject for a petition, and 6,000 people have said so in just a few days. Over 500,000 people have visited our website and tens of thousands have tried Outlook.com. It is a serious public policy issue a lot of people care about.”

In Microsoft press release on their “educational campaign”

“Outlook.com believes your privacy is not for sale,” Weitz said. “We believe people should have choice and control over their private email messages, whether they are sharing banking information or pictures of their family or discussing their medical history.”

Weitz added, “Outlook.com does not scan the contents of your personal email to sell ads. Outlook.com is an email service that prioritizes your own and your family’s privacy. You wouldn’t let the post office look inside your mail, so why would you let Google?”

The irony is Microsoft is using target ads to get it message across that Gmail reads your email to generate targeted ads. Also both Outlook and gmail  “read” your email to filter out spam anyway.

3 Responses to Don’t Get Scroogled

  1. I hate to say it, this all comes back to peoples sense of entitlement. These companies are providing a service to everybody, but in return you have to pay for it in one form or another.

    If Microsoft isn’t using information that gathered from your use of their services then they are providing poor and un-targeted advertising. Which means while on sheer size they still reach a lot of the target audience. Because Google uses information it gathers through your use of their services, advertising provided is _MUCH_ more likely to be something that is relevant to the user which is best for the Google, companies advertising with Google, and probably the user.

    One could always setup their own mail server. You could also use an asymmetric key algorithm to encrypt your personal emails.

  2. I think that even though both companies scan through emails for spam content, this “invasion” is not as visible, and there is a difference in the outcome. Gmail uses this information to display unwanted ads as well. This is a visible annoyance to the Gmail users and a constant reminder of the fact that their email is being read. However, Outlook does not provide constant reminders to users, so the fact that email content is scanned by the company is only noticed when spam is caught, which is favorable to users.
    I think this is very similar to the conversations in class. We care more about what people do with information than the information they have. Individuals care more about the fact that email information is used for targeted ads. Outlook is taking advantage of the individuals fear of privacy invasion and information leakage. I think this is a good marketing strategy for Outlook as a company, as it uses a fear technique to convince people to switch, as well as humor. Even if the ads on Gmail are personalized, they can be wrong or skewed. A service without ads is preferred to a service with ads, even personalized.
    As a user of both email clients, these videos make me more aware of how my emails are not as private as I like to think. I liked watching these and I think it brings up good discussion.

  3. While I disagree with the fact that you can’t send an email without the contents being viewed and evaluated, I don’t see how Microsoft’s approach is that much less invasive. The only difference is that Microsoft claims that it doesn’t use the information to generate adds accordingly. I feel like if you are going to use the internet at all, you are sacrificing your privacy. At the very least, you are allowing your searches, web history, and trends to generate adds according to your interests, which in the grand scheme of things is pretty minor and can sometimes be useful. There’s going to be adds regardless, at least they will be relative to your interests and can be helpful sometimes. I think that Microsoft is just using this idea as adverting strategy to combat one of their main competitors. I admit, they do a good job of appealing to my paranoia with their use of ‘creepy’ eyes peering at you and the want for people to stay out of my personal business. At the end of the day, its not like there is a person reading your personal emails and judging you and the contents. It’s just a mindless computer program scanning for keywords and phrases. I personally don’t find Microsoft’s argument worth switching emails or a cause to worry.