Less Attractive to Marketers

Until I read about Google’s recent decision to preload all images automatically in all Gmail messages, I never thought about what happens when I read a message with images. Apparently, almost any message from a marketer will load those images from a remote server. Because of the nature of HTTP, when each message is loaded, your email client communicates a great deal of “analytic data” about you. It reveals your computing platform (mobile vs. desktop), your operating system, your IP address, and even your geographic location.

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For years, you’ve been able to tell your email client to not load remote images. It’s a matter of setting a preference. For example, in Mac OS Mail, you just go to Preferences > Viewing and uncheck the “Display remote images in HTML messages.”

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In iOS, go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendar, and turn off the setting for “Load Remote Images” to do the same.

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I thought the only purpose of this preference was to speed up downloads, but since I’ve had high-speed Internet for years, I never considered activating it.

Once you stop loading remote images, many email messages look terrible. Many image-rich email messages require using the very worst principles of web design, such as tables and single-pixel invisible images, and all you see is a lot of blank space.

There is some upside to this: all those barebones messages load really fast. And they make us less attractive to marketers.

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