Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gmail - At Least It's Not As Creepy As MySpace

I really like Gmail. I switched to it just before moving in June when I had to cancel my Verizon online account.

Gmail came highly recommended and overall I’ve been very satisfied. Great spam filters. Versatile archiving. Except for this one thing:

Ad bots.

They run an automated ad generator at the top of the email screen. It’s not a graphic or anything, just a link and a quick blurb. Except their ad bot is reading my email and generating targeted ads for me. It’s just a bit on the creepy side.

In the past week I’ve had the following ads come up, some more than once:

Indianwives – forgo the traditional arranged marriage; join the new century (eww.)

Bourne Identity becomes funny – the guys from MST3K take on Matt Damon (OK, this actually sounds funny)

Albany Apartments – great rentals in the capital region (I’m willing to visit Albany, but I didn’t know I wanted to live there – does the bot know something I don’t? By any chance does it know the Powerball numbers?)

Netflix – Get Netflix (reasonable)

Room Paint Designs – by Benjamin Moore – high quality, eco-friendly paints (too many house/remodeling emails?)

101 cookbooks – Minty Chocolate Christmas Cookies (isn’t the bot smart enough to know I’m on a diet?)

Now some of those make sense, but Indianwives? Where is that coming from? Did this bot actually put together a link between an email I sent to someone about Indian food and another lamenting my status as a single guy at holiday parties with happy, loving couples?

I’m considering writing some really provocative emails just to see what the bots will come up with. Feel free to send me some too. If I can make it a game it won’t be so creepy.

Gmail – Get your creep on. In writing. In a fun way. Oy.



Devlynda Marie said...

I often get "interesting" sidebar ads in gmail. Then again, that's how they make things awesome without being overbearing, like the ridiculously laughable new GUI yahoo has that is both annoying and incredibly stupid at the same time. I am a big fan of the gmail myself, and have actually switched completely over to using it 100%.

Ralph said...

look at the ads when you check out the spam folder - cute

Bruce said...

OMG s'funny. Thanks Ralph.

Lucas said...

Did you check out the MST link?

(I just went into my spam folder on Ralph's suggestion, and this was the ad on top: Unlimited Calls to India - - Try Mpingi for 1 Month for Free! Start saving money today.

What's with the India thing?)

Bruce said...

I can't link to it at work so I'll have to wait until I get home. If it's any good I'll post it here.

My spam ads are just that. Ads for anything and everything related to Spam. Monty Python Spam. Spam recipes. Spam history. S'funny.

Bruce said...

So the MST3K site is They have downloadable mp3 commentaries that you play along with your DVD of the films. It's a pay site (a few bucks an mp3) so I haven't tried it, but it's probably a must for die-hard MST3K fans.

Anonymous said...

Big Brother from India here... just writing to wish you a happy holidays, cheap long-distance phone charges, wealthy ponzi-schemes with African royalty, and a four-hour erection.

PS We know where you live.