Now verified: Gmail image caching affects MNB opens (but barely)

We are now seeing, recording, and reporting an actual change/affect to opens with the new Gmail image caching. In the long run, this should not be a detriment to any of our clients as we will always record the first open for any address from Gmail. Subsequent opens from the same Gmail user won’t tally. Furthermore, if a Gmail user forwards one of our newsletters using Gmail’s forward feature, those opens won’t tally either. IF they use MNB’s forward to a friend feature then we record/reflect that in MNB reports as a Forward.

The Pros:

  • We will tally opens much more accurately now for Gmail users
  • Images will always be displayed in Gmail
  • You will know which Gmail users are really not opening your emails and you can drop them

The Cons:

  • If you were relying on opens from Gmail user as your call to action, you need another plan
  • If you were taking action based on multiple opens AND Gmail users were your predominant client base, you need another plan
  • I really cannot think of a solid third con here - we are actually excited about this change

If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. If you need a refresher on why this matters, read the paragraphs below.

In order to track an open for any email we send, we place a transparent 1 pixel by 1 pixel image in the footer. When a user opens an email and requests images, their mail client asks MNB to process that image and we work some tech-magic on our end to properly record the open.

Now that Google is storing that image on their servers, the request to do that tech-magic only ever happens once. Google stores the results on their servers and every time a user opens the email, Google uses their stored copy instead of asking for another (no more “may I have another, please”).