Update on the Gmail image change

Google has recently made a change to how it manages images in its email client, Gmail. As a result of this change, Gmail now caches images and serves them via a proxy.

What does this mean?

– Personalised images display to each recipient as normal when email is opened for the first time
– When recipient opens the same email for the second time, the cached image from the first open is displayed

Here is the impact this has for Kickdynamic customers:

Live email content:

There are 3 issues affecting live content for Kickdynamic customers. The following refers to web & mobile based Gmail opens. It does not apply if accessing email via POP3 or forwarding to another email client – including the iPhone email client.

1. Image caching, countdown clocks & timed images:

The cached image from the first open will be used for all subsequent opens, even if a user goes back to email 3 days later, or refreshes their inbox. Therefore countdown clocks and timed images are still personalised at 1st open, but will be the same image when opened again.

Although this is a relatively big change from Google for these products, we strongly believe that live email content and open-time personalisation has a strong positive impact on email engagement and revenue.

2. Device targeting:

Due to the change, knowing what device is used to open email is no longer available in the user-agent string (see how this changes analytics tracking below).

Therefore device detection for Gmail opens is no longer available and recipients will see the default image.

3. Open-location products:

Location based products use a readers GEO location when they download an image to determine their location. With the new change the location is always where the proxy is located, which is Mountain View California.

In this instance the unique Kickdynamic TAG-merge uses customer demographic data such as city or travel destination to show location relevant images. This gives a full and consistent live content experience for Gmail users, on all devices, and all inboxes for that matter.


With Gmails new caching method the following changes apply.

1. Total open tracking:

Multiple opens for the same user/ID are still being tracked as normal. However we are unable to detect device, therefore there will be a reduction in Gmail opens.

Remember that Gmail opens are not included in the engagement report due to the way Gmail has always handled caching.

2. Geo-IP:

All opens from Gmail are defaulting to California. Therefore you may see an increase in opens from that location.

As a result, Gmail opens will be removed from the Geo-Map report.

This change by Gmail has come as a surprise to many email marketers and it is continually changing. We will update you and this post accordingly when we know more.