Google recently added a new feature to their web-based email, Gmail, known as “Web Clips”. The ‘clips’ are actually RSS feeds, presented one item at a time at the top of your Gmail Inbox.
It’s kind of a neat concept, but the part that strikes me as a bit questionable is the fact that interdispersed with items from your chosen RSS feeds, Google also inserts Google AdWords, with only a vague delination between actual content (your feed items) and the ads. Here’s a screenshot of a “Sponsored Link” appearing in the “Web Clips” area:
Google already places contextual advertising within my email account. So why does is it necessary stuff further ads onto my account, while at the same time blurring the line between my own personalized content and served advertising?
The other thing that bugs me about this is that Google is attempting to “trick” their users into clicking on these ads by placing them in the exact same spot, in the exact same format, as the user’s RSS feeds.
Not evil, per se. But not very cool at all.