08 July 2005

Gmail Users Developing Ad Blindness; How to Resolve

Posted by Jameson Penn
Google has a big problem on its hands: Gmail users are developing ad blindness. Ad blindness results when people get accustomed to ads and stop noticing them. Ad blindness is not a problem for search engines, as people are searching for information and very often text ads constitute relevant information. Gmail ads can be relevant as well, but they have a much lesser probability of being so. Consequently, people have a lot less incentive to read them, and eventually learn to ignore them without conscious effort.
Google can offer all sorts of additional Gmail account enhancements in exchange for Google Points. For instance, Google could offer Bayesian spam filtering for 150 Google Points. Bayesian filtering is somewhat expensive to implement as it requires the storage of account specific filter data. Google will be offering the feature to its best customers so the additional expense will be acceptable. Google could have done something similar with POP access, and probably still can as Gmail is still in Beta. The idea of distributing Google Points in addition to quota chunks seems redundant. Why not simply distribute Google Points, and let people purchase quotas if they so choose? The problem here is that Google Points will need to be accumulated before they can be exchanged for account enhancements. Consequently, there will not be any instant gratification associated with them. The instant gratification of immediately available additional storage is essential to keeping users interested in any such scheme.


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