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Google readies 'better ads' system for Gmail

New signals system will attempt to serve up more relevant and useful ads by better predicting which topics appear to be important to each user.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil

Google is getting ready to present "better ads" in messages delivered via its e-mail service.

The Web giant announced today that it intends to serve up fewer but more relevant and useful ads by better predicting which topics appear to be important to each user.

One of the tools that Google plans to use to accomplish this is its Priority Inbox, a feature launched last August that is designed to help clear the clutter from users' inboxes by filtering out e-mail deemed less important, Google said in a support information page:

Using some of the same signals that help predict which messages are likely to be important to you, Gmail will better predict which ads may be useful to you. For example, if you've recently received a lot of messages about photography or cameras, a deal from a local camera store might be interesting. On the other hand if you've reported these messages as spam, you probably don't want to see that deal.

Google plans a gradual rollout of the change, with only a few users noticing the new system.

Despite Google assurances that the system is automated and no personally identifiably information about users is ever shared with advertisers, the new process is likely to ignite privacy concerns. Users can opt out of the new signals system on the Gmail settings page.