Eager to lure users away from Google’s Gmail, the Windows-maker has launched an ad campaign warning consumers that the Internet search giant scans email to target advertising, CNET notes.
Dubbed “Don’t get scroogled by Google,” Microsoft’s latest campaign claims that 70% of respondents to a recent survey said they didn’t know Google uses software to check the contents of emails so that it can apply ads to Gmail’s website that reflect email content.
By contrast, Microsoft says its Outlook email service does not put user privacy up for sale to advertisers. It plans to rebrand its long-running free-email Hotmail as Outlook. Hotmail is ranked third among free-email providers, behind Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Gmail.
Google has been scanning user emails since Gmail was first introduced in 2004. The practice has drawn criticism from consumer advocates and politicians. Google counters that the scans are done automatically, and the results aren’t viewed by human operators.
The effort is part of Microsoft’s “Scroogled” campaign, which it launched in November by criticizing Google Shopping. Retailers pay Google fees to display products in its e-commerce operation.
Shares of both Microsoft and Google slipped fractionally in Thursday midday trading.