Yahoo, Bucking Industry, Scans Emails for Data to Sell Advertisers
The Wall Street Journal
By Douglas MacMillan, Sarah Krouse and Keach Hagey
The U.S. tech industry has largely declared it is off limits to scan emails for information to sell to advertisers. Yahoo AABA +0.06% still sees the practice as a potential gold mine.
Yahoo’s owner, the Oath unit of Verizon Communications Inc., has been pitching a service to advertisers that analyzes more than 200 million Yahoo Mail inboxes and the rich user data they contain, searching for clues about what products those users might buy, said people who have attended Oath’s presentations as well as current and former employees of the company.
Oath said the practice extends to AOL Mail, which it also owns. Together, they constitute the only major U.S. email provider that scans user inboxes for marketing purposes.
The strategy bucks a recent Silicon Valley trend toward more data privacy and shows an industry divided on where to draw the line between user protections and technologies that many advertisers crave.