Gmail Image Changes Affecting Open Rates and Reporting

GmailRecently many ESPs have been experiencing issues with image tracking due to image caching at Gmail. While this is currently not affecting all ESPs, based on several conversations I’ve had with various other ESP delivery and compliance team members, I think this is just a matter of time before all commercial senders start to experience the image caching from Gmail. Like any new feature Google implements they roll them out, starting today, in waves across their server farms to ensure stability and compatibility so keep an eye on your open rates to see if your subscribers have been activated on to the latest update.

From the Gmail team blog this new “feature” announcement explains that the caching of images is to allow for security improvements in the way that Gmail servers images to their users. As an added bonus to this change Gmail will be enabling images on by default to their users making messages render for all to see.

The big concerns for digital marketers going forward will be the accurate tracking of unique and total opens for email campaigns. Initial testing by various ESPs shows the initial open is tracked for the images, but subsequent images are not being recorded in their systems. This also affects marketers that plan on changing images post deployment to users at Gmail as the original images may continue to display… I guess we can say goodbye to multi-day sales notifications in a single email and other dynamic images being called changing from a remote server. Many ESPs are testing alternative ways of deploying image tracking to minimize the impact of this change, but to date I have not see a solid fully testing and functioning work around for this.

The goal posts have moved again and as email marketers we will need to adapt and play by the new rules again.

Share your experiences with the latest changes in the comments.

Author: Matthew Vernhout

Author, CPO, Digital Marketing & Privacy Advocate, Gamer Founder of EmailKarma.net and FeedYourConsole.com

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