Images Switched On For Web and Mobile Users

Google is making a major shift in how Gmail will be displaying content to users of their mobile apps and web client. Previously, unknown senders would not have the images in their email displayed unless the recipient expressly allowed it (screen shot below).

Image Display Prompt

This image display prompt would cause heartburn for email marketers as they would not know an accurate count of those who opened up their messages. ESPs, like Real Magnet, insert an invisible image pixel for each email sent from out platform. We then derive the number of opens based on that image being displayed or a link being clicked. Moreover, If the sender forgot to insert alt tags for every image (like in the above screen shot) the recipient would often have no clue to what the message was about and engagement would suffer.

Gmail Notification Pop-in

The above image shows a pop-in notification. You’ll most likely see this alert soon when signing into Gmail.  It is informing you that images from all senders will be shown by default from now on.  This applies to the web based version of Gmail as well as the Gmail app on iPhone / Android devices. If you’re an iPhone user you might not even notice the change – iPhone gmail users have had images enabled by default since day one with the stock mail app.

So What Does That Mean For Engagement (& Metrics)?

This is a massive undertaking by Google – they’re basically now hosting (in perpetuity) all the images assets of every image message sent to Gmail recipients on their servers and delivering that content to the end recipients via one of their proxies.


Most marketers should see an increase in their Gmail open rates. That’s because out tracking pixels (like all other images) are defaulted to be on.  Google has servers across the world and some of the fastest bandwidth you can get.  This should mean quick rendering of images anywhere around the globe.


A very small percentage of recipients open the same message more than once. Before Gmail’s change, this “gross” data was captured and reported by Real Magnet. Once implemented, Google will not be retuning gross data to ESPs. It will not return other data as well, including location and browser data.


Have questions on the impact of this on your recipients?  Reach out to either your strategic account manager or our support team ( to have your deliverability and other questions answered!