Update: Google has confirmed to TechCrunch that is is applying the same policy to business Gmail accounts.
Microsoft may or may not have killed its Scroogled ad campaign, in which it attempted to portray automated customized ad serving as an invasion of privacy, but it appears to have notched up a success. Google has announced today that it is permanently removing all ads and ad-scanning from Google Apps for Education.
Google had earlier disabled ads by default, allowing administrators to switch them back on if desired, but continued to use automated keyword scanning of Gmail to serve personalised ads if they were switched on. As of today, the option to enable ads is gone, along with keyword scanning within the education version of Gmail …
Today, we’re taking additional steps to enhance the educational experience for Apps for Education customers:
- We’ve permanently removed the “enable/disable” toggle for ads in the Apps for Education Administrator console. This means ads in Apps for Education services are turned off and administrators no longer have the option or ability to turn ads in these services on.
- We’ve permanently removed all ads scanning in Gmail for Apps for Education, which means Google cannot collect or use student data in Apps for Education services for advertising purposes.
While few may mourn the loss of ads, they provide the revenue stream from which Google funds its services. Less ad revenue means less to spend on developing future services and fewer free services as well.
But to me the really depressing thing about this is that Google taking this step suggests that educators were taken in by a deliberately deceptive ad campaign, believing Microsoft’s implication that automated keyword matching was in some way equivalent to Google staff reading people’s emails. Google is on record as stating that the Scroogled campaign is “misleading and intellectually dishonest,” leaving concerns by educators as the only reason to make this announcement.
Or perhaps so many educators were turning it off that there was no point in leaving it in Apps for Educators.
One would have hoped that those responsible for educating future generations would themselves be a little more educated on the subject, and able to see the nonsensical nature of the claims, but it would appear not …