Google Reveals BIMI Involvement, Will Run Pilot Next Year

Google has joined the roster of tech firms working on Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI), a security standard that lets brands display their logos in the subject lines of authenticated emails, the company announced on Wednesday.

In addition to being part of the AuthIndicators Working Group, Google expects to launch a BIMI pilot next year. It brings to the party the biggest email service on the planet — Gmail.

The presence of the logo assures the recipient that the message is from a trusted brand, advocates say.

Google’s involvement has been no secret. It was initially revealed as part of a working group that included Agari, Valimail, Comcast and Microsoft. The individual members reportedly dedicated development time and resources.

The public members now include LinkedIn, Return Path from Validity and Verizon Media.

Yahoo Mail was the first email service provider to test BIMI, and it saw two immediate benefits.

"We were able to provide better and more accurate brand logos as part of our consumer mail experience and BIMI clearly provided an incentive to accelerate the adoption of DMARC among those brands,” states Marcel Becker, director of product management for Verizon Media. 

Google is hoping for similar success. “"We believe BIMI is promising and is heading in the right direction; we're excited to be a part of crafting the future of the standard," states Neil Kumaran, product lead for Gmail Anti-Abuse and the vice-chair of the AuthIndicators working group.

To qualify under BIMI, emails must be authenticated through the Domain-based Message Authentication, Receiving & Conformance (DMARC) standard. In addition, the domain owner must have specified a DMARC policy of enforcement at quarantine or reject. 

In addition, the brand logo also must be validated by a third party, issued a Verified Mark Certificate (VMC). 

The idea for BIMI originated with DMARC vendors a few years ago. “DMARC solves a meaningful problem when it comes to fraud prevention, but people were not doing this rapidly,” said Seth Blank, the chair of the AuthIndicators Working Group and director of industry initiatives at Valimail, last year. “It gets stuck as a project that’s rarely completed.”

At that time, Google reportedly was studying the security implications. "We welcome Google's contributions to this important new standard," Blank states. "This is excellent news for the email ecosystem, in which Google plays a significant and positive role.” 

Blank said last year that BIMI is “assertive — it gets your logo right out there.” However, he conceded that some public education is needed. 

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