Gmail Knows What you are Buying and Shipping

8 comments

According to the owner of this screen shot Gmail scanned the contents of his email and automatically added the tracking link located in the upper right hand corner. From a programming point of view pretty cool.

However if GMail is "smart" enough to extract shipping codes what other kind of information could they extract? Would you be comfortable with Google knowing what you items you are buying, how frequently and how much you are spending? How about merging your purchase data with adwords/adsense clicks? If you're a merchant how comfortable are you with Google learning about your customers purchases? Scary ... very scary!

Comments

Yup.

This is precisely the reason why I'd be hesitant to use this kind of service. I'd be happy (perhaps) if I had a program on my local machine that did that kind of thing, but not a program on an outside party's servers.

knowing a tracking number is one thing...

...using it is a whole different story

I think it would be stupid of Google to actually use the fact they can extract the tracking number from your email and go see where it's shipping

plus, most of the data is in your emails already anyway

every order creates a confirmation email... every registration for a new service creates a login info email... some services even email the new password to you once you change it...

I don't see this as a major problem, once you swallow the whole 'kiss-your-privacy-goodbye' thing.

having real regrets about google analytics

Google Analystics has turned out to be quite a trojan horse. It's slowing down pages across the web (not just mine). The service is slow enough that I can't be bothered looking at the stats. I'm sure google has a fast version running at headquarters for their own analysis of my stats and those of my clients.

Hurray.

This story makes my day of course.

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We talk about this new feature here:
http://mail.google.com/mail/help/about_whatsnew.html

"Now Gmail automatically detects addresses and tracking numbers, and displays useful information for them alongside your messages. With a single click, you can get directions to that address your friend sent you, or find out when the new book you ordered will arrive. Pretty handy!"

Frankly, this is one of the things that made me finally upgrade from mutt to Gmail. I like that it's smart enough to suggest useful links. At Web 2.0, the biggest applause that I heard was for Zimbra, and they were doing something quite like this for email, except Zimbra actually added links in the text of the email.

Hold on. Okay, this is the closest I could find: http://www.zimbra.com/products/ss_conversation.html
It would detect dates and make them clickable to go to a calendar (including poorly specified dates like "next Friday"), plus package tracking, addresses, etc. Ah, here's a better example:
http://www.zimbra.com/products/ss_po_numbers.html
and another:
http://www.zimbra.com/products/ss_yahoo_map.html

Again, the audience just loved the idea and really applauded the demo. I personally would rather have in-line hyperlinks like Zimbra did, but to the side is still useful. So I can see where graywolf is coming from with the "Scary.. very scary!" angle but I think the average user would really like it.

Mr. Cutts - Fear Factor

Does Google give us the option to turn off that tracking feature and others?

I am interested in how Google works; when they metered Zimbra getting the applause did they immediately go to work on a new feature for Gmail? That scares developers I bet as well.

For the record, this is a

For the record, this is a piece of piss to implement from a programming point of view, especially since this came from Amazon. They expect the input and parse it, it's not like there's a system intelligently analysing all the information and making decisions on whether a user would find that useful or not.

I noticed it the other day...

when I received an e-mail from the St. Pete Times Forum and it offered me a map to the venue. If you don't like it, I would think the simple answer is to use something besides Gmail. After all, there are lots of options out there.

I would think the simple

I would think the simple answer is to use something besides Gmail.

What about froma merchants point of view, if a customer uses Gmail you can't not send them shipping info, and telling them they can't use a gmail account isn't a good answer either.

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