Google used to crawl through the text of an e-mail you were reading on its Gmail service, then serve up ads that were related to the text on the page. Today, the company announced, it's taking that a few steps further: Now Google will scan through e-mails you've read and sent in the past, learn what you like and don't like and serve up ads that are relevant to you.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Showing more relevant ads could help Gmail make more money from consumers. Today, Gmail's main business purpose is a showcase for Google's enterprise apps. ...
The new system will look at your emails over time and figure out what you're interested in. For instance, if you and your friends recently exchanged a flurry of emails about The Breslin in New York, Gmail might guess you're interested in restaurants.
On the other end, if you always ignore email about music or cast it into the spam bucket, Gmail probably won't show you ads for the latest Radiohead album.
Google says that only a computer scans through e-mail you send and receive and that it doesn't share any identifiable information with advertisers. But, CNET reports, if you're concerned about privacy, Google has provided a way to opt-out of the service.
This new way of serving ads isn't necessarily new. Facebook has been serving ads that take into account your preferences and likes for some time.