Thursday, April 12, 2007

Google and pork products

So this one is a small issue, and doesn't cause problems to the user as much as it's just mildly amusing. But I thought I'd bring it up anyway.

Users of Gmail are familiar with the unobstrusive text ads that appear alongside messages. The content of these little snippets is determined based on words contained in email conversations. For instance, if you're emailing back and forth with a friend about your upcoming trip to Cabo San Lucas, deciding when you'll go and where you'll stay, you're likely to see some text ads along the right column advertising Beach Rentals in Cabo or travel sites for booking your flights.

I think this feature is very useful. It's a great value proposition for users, advertisers and Google. Advertisers are guaranteed a receptive target to their message, users aren't bothered with irrelevant ad messages, and Google...well, Google is Google because they always gets paid.

But Gmail has a cannabilism problem. As it scans, looking for keywords to match to web content or ads, it's scanning itself! And the hilarious case in point - the spam folder:

A few times a day, I click on my Spam folder, do a quick scan to make sure nothing legit got tagged, and then I empty it. Gmail's trusty ad keyword searcher, however, dutifully picks up the word Spam and, invariably, every single day, gives Recipes for spam casserole. For spam and eggs. For spam on toast.

It's a return to the Monty Python litany that created the word's tech-based meaning in the first place. I suppose I'd laugh a little less often if this glitch got fixed, but isn't it a glitch all the same?

1 comment:

Chris H said...

Google has a sense of humor. Maybe this is a feature and not a bug. I think it's rather funny.