How Gmail’s New Image Caching System Affects Open Rate

February 19, 2014

Late last year, Google implemented a new image caching system for their powerhouse email platform. If you’re a Gmail user, you may have noticed a change in the way that the client handles your incoming messages; no longer are you asked to download and display images, because Google now caches those embedded images and displays them automatically.

On the surface, this might seem like a minor change with few negative side effects. And on the user side, that’s mostly true. But email marketers have long used the information acquired when a recipient downloads images to review and optimize campaigns.

Among the images loaded in many marketing emails is a tiny pixel that relays data back to the sender. For companies using that pixel to track multiple opens and other info about location, browser, etc., Google’s switch to a caching system has caused a disruption in data gathering.

Fortunately, at CartStack, we’ve seen no such issues. We track only unique opens, and in fact our ability to monitor these has only been improved because users no longer need to click a link to download images in order to register the email as opened. We’ve actually seen a rise in open rate since Google changed its system, and since people often read emails and click on links while skipping the image download step,  we believe that this more accurately reflects the behavior of recipients.