Microsoft launches 'Don't get Scroogled' campaign against Google

Microsoft launches 'Don't get Scroogled' campaign against Google

Summary: In what could be described as a smear campaign, Microsoft takes aim and fires at Gmail to try and attract more users to Outlook.

TOPICS: Microsoft, Google

Negative advertising campaigns conducted by any firm or party are always classy, and Microsoft's latest offering certainly amuses.

Microsoft began a new national campaign today which encourages users to leave Google's Gmail service in favor of joining Microsoft's Outlook email facilities, hooking into privacy concerns to relay the message.

The campaign, titled "Don't Get Scroogled by Gmail," highlights an issue which has been raised many times before: the fact that Google scans emails in order to target and tailor advertising alongside the message to the user.

Starting today, television, print, and online advertisements will sport the word "Scroogled!" in the colors of Google's famous logo. Microsoft says the aim of the campaign is to "educate Americans about Google's practice of going through the contents of all Gmail emails to sell and target ads." According to the Redmond giant, a study it commissioned found that 70 percent of consumers didn't know that email providers "routinely" read personal email to target advertising -- and 88 percent of people "disapprove" of this practice once they know.

In addition, Microsoft has launched a campaign to "to stop Google going through your emails to sell ads." At the time of writing, there are 121 signatures out of a target 25,000.

"Emails are personal -- and people feel that reading through their emails to sell ads is out of bounds," said Stefan Weitz, senior director of Online Services at Microsoft in a statement. "We honor the privacy of our users, and we are concerned that Google violates that privacy every time an user exchanges messages with someone on Gmail. This campaign is as much about protecting users from Gmail as it is about making sure Gmail users know what Google's doing."

Microsoft uses the following examples to try and bolster the Scroogle campaign:

"For example, if you write a friend to let her know you are separating from your husband, Google sells ads against this information to divorce lawyers, who post ads alongside it. Or if you ask a friend for vacation suggestions, Google uses this information to target you with ads from travel agencies or airlines that want your business."

The tech giant says that Outlook does not scan emails in order to tailor advertising to users. However, Google has long insisted that user privacy is not impacted due to automatic scanning technology. A spokesman for Google, Chris Gaither, told Bloomberg that even though advertising is tailored -- as it is declared on Google's website -- no humans ever read account or email information in order to target advertising. Gaither said:

"Advertising keeps Google and many of the websites and services Google offers free of charge. We work hard to make sure that ads are safe, unobtrusive and relevant."

Last year, Gmail came in close-second to Yahoo as the top free e-mail provider in the U.S., claiming 69.1 million users to Yahoo's 76.7 million, according to ComScore. Microsoft retained third place.

Topics: Microsoft, Google

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  • And SkyDrive?

    I heard MS goes through your SkyDrive data...
    • Glad to see MSFT exposing Google scam

      Way over due to call Google out on such shenanigan.
      • If you don't like it, disable it

        It is just a piece of code that is intended to make sure you don't have to see big flashy graphical ads about things you don't care about, why would you not prefer ads that are relevant to what you like?

        If you think that Google are profiling you in ways that MS and the others *isn't* you are naive.

        But anyway, here's the the link for disabling targeted ads:
        • You are not naive if you think Google is special in how they profile

          You are correct. MS actually testified before Congress about the information they collect, and it is of a vastly different magnitude than what Google collects. You can bet they were honest about it, too, since if they get caught lying to Congress people will go to jail.
          x I'm tc
          • I think you're overly optimistic

            In that people get to go to jail if they lie to congress. They probably get billions in bailout money and a "well done" for all they have done. That and the stereotype is that if you want the truth, don't go to a politician go to your wife.
          • Wife being truthful?

            *snort* Yeah right. Women are much better liars than men.

            Why do you think I'm getting ads for divorce attorneys in my g-mail along with the person theorized in the article?
        • That stops the ads, but ...

          ... will that stop google from going through your emails?
          • ...and what will stop others

            for that matter from going through your emails?
        • agreed

          Microsoft's hypocrisy is palpable. This smacks of desperation.
      • Up Vote

        I gave you an up vote simply for the use of the word Shenanigan. Well done sir!
        Burger Meister
      • Microsoft

        is screwing people's brain. Google is not "looking" in your email a script is, it parses the content of the email body using a certain algorithm. Those who don't use webmail with the js enables don't even suspect that any ads exist. I use IMAP, which hotmail lacks AMOF.
        BTW, yahoo mail ad was much more annoying as I recall it and unavoidable. MS looks in your harddrive on WIn 8 with their ad embedded in th non-free product.
        • And the script belongs to...


          So if the script belongs to Google, the script represents Google, and so Google is going through your emails. ;-)
          • that's

            right. And who leads the company? Schmidt, Brin and Page. So they look in your emails and personally decide which ad to serve you. All 70 millions of them!
          • @eulampius

            Please do not argue for the sake of argue. The Ad says that Google is looking into your mail. Not that a Google employee is looking into your mail. They are theoretically correct. Even though Schmidt, Brin and Page owns Google, they must have signed that whatever they come up with when they work in Google belongs to Google and Google itself.

            However, this is a stupid campaign. No one in the internet is purely secured. They are trying to scare people out of gmail, which in my opinion, is a low blow and will never happen.
    • Off-topic

      Classic off topic anti-MS propaganda.
      Tim Acheson
      • Sure...

        There is no need for propaganda or off-topic because truth about Microsoft is far more damaging against it and Microsoft itself starts these propaganda cases against others.

        It is just so weird how some people can have so strong blind faith toward Microsoft that it isn't much worse than other companies.
    • Microsoft = corruption

      Microsoft is probably the most rotten shus ;)
      facts how Microsoft earns money:
    • Skype

      I've heard that after MS acquired Skype, it began dishing out ADs during video calls.
    • Nope.

      They don't.
      x I'm tc
    • All cloud storage services do that

      They look for violations such as in the case with Microsoft they have rules against uploading pornographic images and videos. I am sure GoogleDrive and iCloud and DropBox have similar rules. This doesn't change the fact that Google uses your data and probably shares it with their advertisers to make money off of you.

      I guess this why I do not trust the "cloud" from any company. I have my own cloud in the form of a Windows Home Server I can access from the web and sync to directly.