Google on Friday said it plans to stop scanning the inboxes of Gmail’s free users to personalize ads later this year.
The move to remove scanning for words in emails follows Google's strategy for business customers, Diane Greene, SVP of Google Cloud, wrote in a blog post. The decision brings Gmail ads in line with how Google personalizes ads for other Google products.
"Ads shown are based on users’ settings," she wrote, estimating that the service supports about 1.2 billion users worldwide. "Users can change those settings at any time, including disabling ads personalization. G Suite will continue to be ad free."
Google may be making the shift because its machine-learning algorithms can gain enough data to target ads through other means such as pulling in search data through its network or by using AdWords Customer Match, which serves advertisements by matching the email address to other customer data.
Several years ago, around 2013, Google began teaching artificial intelligence to search and target ads based on memory. The original test focused on the technology being able to identify and then remember an image in a video frame to automatically search, identify and describe the object later down the road.
Fast forward to 2017, when companies like LiveRamp partnered with Google to build an extension in Customer Match that would introduce people-based search targeting. The technology has become so intelligent that it can piece together incomplete targeting data to accurate target advertisements.