Google put an ad in my Gmail inbox — so why don't I care?

OK, it's a single ad. And it's semi-relevant to my interests.

I am not outraged. I am not upset. In fact, there's a good chance that had we not received so many emails from folks wondering just who the hell Google thought it was, violating the sanctity of our inboxes with a sponsored email from Delta — an advertisement! — that I might not have even noticed.

But there it is, among all the other crap in my "Promotions" tab. An offer for an "Economy Comfort Upgrade" — or, rather, an offer to pay for one — on a Delta flight.

This should bother the hell out of me. It's my inbox. It's a mess, even on a good day. And I don't want anythinking clunking it up more than it already is.

So why am I OK with this?

What's one more piece of junk amongst the garbage that is my inbox?

It's probably mostly apathy on my part. The Promotions tab does a pretty good job of garbage collection. So what's one more piece of junk amongst the trash? (And to be clear, this ad is doubly useless for me, since my frequent flyer status on Delta gets me Economy Comfort upgrades automatically and for free anyway.) If I don't want to see it, I just swipe it away and archive the sucker.

And it's not even there all the time anyway. I didn't actually do anything with the "ad" when it first appeared. Now it's nowhere to be seen. ... Oh, wait. It's back. Fine.

Still doesn't bother me.

Or maybe it's because after a decade and a half in the publishing business I understand the necessary evil of advertising. So maybe I'm giving Google and Delta a pass because of that. Or maybe because it's an ad that's at least in the ballpark of being relevant to my interests (I fly a good bit for this job), and that's what Google's truly striving to do.

Part of me wants to be upset. That part of me isn't as busy as the rest, though.

That's not to say there's not that little voice in the back of my head screaming "HOW ARE YOU OK WITH THIS?!?!?" (And for the record, that voice often still sounds like this guy.) Because the rational side of me knows better. It is my inbox. It is my email headspace that Delta and Google are invading with their spammy spam advertisement.

And for as much as I'm paying to use that free Gmail account they damn well better resp— erm, right. That Gmail account was free.

So maybe that's the price we'll have to pay for what arguably (and I don't think you have to argue all that hard) is the best email experience available. Maybe it won't grow past this one experiment. Maybe we'll just have to swallow just a tad of our nerd pride and deal with it. I, for one, won't lose any sleep over it. Even if I'm not in Economy Comfort.

Phil Nickinson