Microsoft ribs Google's ad tech with 'Gmail Man'

A new video spoof from Microsoft takes a crack at Google's use of contextual advertising in Gmail, equating the practice to a real-life delivery person called the "Gmail Man."

Josh Lowensohn
Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Microsoft's "Gmail Man" parody.
Microsoft's "Gmail Man" parody. YouTube/Microsoft

The day after Google launched its site dedicated to helping to convert non-Gmail users with tongue-in-cheek "interventions," a Microsoft video has surfaced taking jabs at Google's mail service for its contextual advertising program.

Mary Jo Foley over at CNET sister site ZDNet posted the video spoof today, which was shown to attendees at Microsoft's annual Global Exchange sales conference earlier this month. In it, the company takes a crack at Google's AdWords program, which serves up contextual advertising based on the content of e-mail messages. That's accomplished by mimicking what the practice would be like with a real-life mail delivery person.

In this case, it's the "Gmail Man," a friendly, though perhaps too curious bringer of electronic messages that have been printed out in giant red Gmail envelopes. The Gmail Man explains why he's rifling through open messages to a curious passerby, a young girl who's quickly repulsed. Later on he strolls into a fictional office where he serves up ads the recipient says are wildly inaccurate.

The end goal is to push Microsoft's Office 365 product, whichlaunched out of beta with much fanfare exactly one month ago. That subscription service offers small and midsize businesses hosted versions of Microsoft's software like Exchange e-mail and Lync, Microsoft's communications platform.

Not mentioned in the video (but worth noting) is that Google Apps users at both the business and educational tiers can completely disable advertising. Apps is Google's non-consumer-focused Web mail and office Web app offering.

The full video's below: