Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Google ‘Scroogles’, making Microsoft Outlook appealing

Have you been ‘Scroogled’ recently? I know I have. When writing a paper on Cirque du Soleil as part of an assignment for Innovative Marketing Strategies class (Master of Marketing Program at the University of Sydney) I kept getting served ads about Cirque du Soleil.

Having seen a number of Cirque du Soleil shows, I truly appreciate the innovation and creativeness of the production. I did not however appreciate that Cirque du Soleil was invading my ad space which essentially gave me the feeling of being watched.

So how did these ads just start showing up coincidently at the same time that I was writing numerous emails to my fellow students in my presentation group about the Cirque du Soleil? At first I thought it was just by chance, but as time went on and I kept receiving ads related to words I was using in my Gmail emails I realised that I was being Scroogled!

Microsoft, Google’s competitor came up with the term ‘Scroogle’ by blending the words ‘screwed’ and Google. So being Scroogled poetically implies you are being screwed by Google.

Many Gmail users are unaware that Google’s Gmail system scans emails for keywords and then uses these key words to serve you ads. Brilliant? Perhaps. Invasion of my privacy? Definitely!

As email providers might just become the new competitive platform (at least until the next iPhone or Apple product comes out on the market), privacy policies will be held in high regards as a deciding feature to stay with a current email provider, or to move to a Microsoft’s product such as Outlook.com.

Microsoft’s Outlook.com offers many desirable features over and above those offered by Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail. Among them is privacy (currently being violated by Gmail in my opinion), sophistication in that Outlook.com can be connected to your social media networks, and a sorting option that makes it easy for a user to prioritise their emails.

I’m tempted to ditch my Gmail account because I don’t want to feel like my emails are not private. Do you feel that Gmail fairly communicates this lack of privacy to subscribers? How will Gmail have to modify their activities in the future to stay competitive?

Mina D'Souza
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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