Google’s Image Caching – Much Ado about Not Much?

This week, there has been a change made at Google that has resulted in multiple blog posts throughout the email industry, but I’m of a belief that nothing that’s happened can’t be overcome with just a little bit of work on the part of marketers and their service providers.

The data we collect at Return Path gives us a clear indication that Google has altered the information in the HTTP GET requests it sends on behalf of its customers. That said, there doesn’t seem to be a change in frequency of these requests that would suggest that Google is caching these images; if they are, they’re doing so with a TTL that can be most accurately measured in seconds.

The change to the format and content of the HTTP GET request is not unlike something that we noticed with Hotmail’s launch back in May, and it has left some providers (including Return Path, at the moment) scrambling to adapt. Tools designed to measure based on parsing of text will always fail if the format of the text being parsed changes, and that’s what looks to be what happened here.

We will be altering our Email Client Monitor product over the next few days in order to deal with this latest change, and we are confident that we will be able to correctly present all data to our customers going forward.

We welcome questions or feedback at [email protected].

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