Keynote: Proxies, Power & Privacy – The New Email Landscape
Wednesday June 22, 2022
Email is quietly morphing from a quasi-free-range direct Internet technology to an hourglass-shaped market structure; in the middle, a small handful of inbox providers are increasingly shaping how email works end-to-end, with little to no input from top or bottom. Apple’s MPP is the most visible recent example; Gmail’s promotions tab is another. Did consumers ask for “spy pixels” to be blocked, or was it brand opportunism? Did Gmail recipients ask for a “promotions tab”, or did they simply accept the feature when it showed up?
Fractured market share at the top (marketer/platform) of the glass and lack of an industry association has left marketers with little opportunity to push back or influence this shift. Teams and time go to tactical and technical battles gauged to the old free-range landscape; entire sub-industries (e.g. deliverability) have sprung up to run continual patches on the gaps.
That the email channel hasn’t been hijacked wholesale is mainly a coincidence; the battle of the mobile duopoly (Apple/Google) has created an inadvertent neutrality. Google takes away inbox placement, but leaves open rates. Apple has flooded open rates, but left customer-location. Google pushed AMP; without Apple support, it’s dead.