Microsoft just launched an aggressive anti-campaign designed to get people to switch from Gmail to Outlook.com. The basis for the mud slinging is the fact that Google scans all Gmail messages in order to serve up targeted advertising. Outlook.com doesn’t.
And as if that wasn’t enough, they hang Google with its own words, like this quote from Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt:
“There is what I call the creepy line. The Google policy on a lot of things is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.”
That quote is so ludicrous, I thought they made it up, but it’s true. The website for the campaign goes on to say that 71% of people don’t know Gmail scans their mail in order to match ads and 87% said that using email in this way is an invasion of their privacy.
I say, people don’t know what they don’t want to know. Even if you explained the truth to the 71% of people who claim they didn’t know, a large portion of them wouldn’t give up their Gmail anyway because it’s too convenient and they’re already invested. Microsoft says that 60% of people would consider switching but I doubt it. It’s the same thing we do with Facebook. We complain about the lack of privacy and the changes and the way its run but we keep logging on to see what our friends are up to and to play FarmVille. Everyone gripes but no one leaves.
The bigger issue here is the smear campaign itself. Even if everything Microsoft says about Gmail is true, this is no way to convert customers. Microsoft even went so far as to set up a petition on Care2 to get Google to stop scanning messages, the implication being that Microsoft actually cares about your privacy. They don’t. They just want your business and they think this is the way to get it.
You know what it reminds me of? Politics. So imagine my surprise when I saw this from The New York Times:
Microsoft has been investing more in its Google attacks in recent months. Mark Penn, the former Democratic political consultant and adviser to both Bill and Hillary Clinton, joined Microsoft as an employee last year in part to help the company identify chinks in Google’s armor and to craft advertisements that seek to turn them into full-blown cracks. Mr. Penn was involved in the latest Gmail campaign, as he was on the Scroogled campaign over the holidays, according to Microsoft.
I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to slam your competitor. If you can’t win people over with your benefits and features then you need to build a better product. When you spend all this energy to tell me how bad the other guy is, it makes me think that you’re the lesser or two evils so maybe I’ll choose option three which is Yahoo Mail.
What do you think of Microsoft’s anti-Gmail campaign? All’s fair in advertising or a low blow?