Verizon quietly introduced a new email marketing feature that it calls’view time enhancement’. It sounds like a euphemism for a tracking tool that alerts advertisers to the moment you’re looking at your email inbox.
The service is part of Verizon’s suite of email and web advertising properties, including AOL and Yahoo. A well-known programmer called out Verizon on Twitter today for what Hansson calls an’Orwellian’ ad placement tool.
Hansson is helping develop a privacy-focused email client called hey through his company Basecamp. He is the co-founder and chief technology officer alongside CEO Jason fried.
Verizon is now selling placement in AOL and Yahoo email accounts under the truly Orwellian term’view time enhancement’.
View time enhancement is a play on the popular email marketing tool send time enhancement. It uses existing data gathered about an email user through their interactions with tracking pixels and other invasive yet near-universally used ad tech to know the best time to target you with an ad.
If it shows up right then, the data shows someone is more likely to open the message. Verizon’s version of this tracks people in their AOL or Yahoo email client to send the ad out’when users are actively engaging with their inbox’.
‘it’s improving the sender’s open rates, click-through rates, and overall ROI of their email marketing campaign,’ says Verizon product director Marcel Becker.
Hansson’s Orwellian descriptor is based on Hansson’s product. This is where Becker would n’t be a good marketer, or a model Verizon employee, if he did n’t spin this product as a benefit both to advertisers and consumers.
‘we believe that tracking our customers is wrong,’ he writes.’we also believe in the idea that they should be able to discover what is the most relevant to them’.
Verizon does not care because the value it provides to the advertisers that pay it to use these tools is greater than the potential privacy implications.
There are paid services out there for people who want more privacy. Companies like Verizon accurately assume most people do n’t care enough and will put up with invasive advertising in exchange for a free product.
The ad tech tool provides instantaneous knowledge of when someone is sitting at their computer. Other issues include how much of this tool is automated or how much manual intervention a human being can take.