Summary:

Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is updating the ads that are embedded in users’ Gmail messages, promising a more “relevant” experience. The move comes a…

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Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is updating the ads that are embedded in users’ Gmail messages, promising a more “relevant” experience. The move comes amid stepped up challenges to Gmail’s dominance as a free e-mail service, which are coming from Facebook, AOL (NYSE: AOL) and Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO). While those companies’ moves probably won’t dent Gmail’s popularity with either advertisers or users, it is also partly intended to address the service’s only real threat: regulatory penalties.

Last week, Google agreed to settle with the FTC on privacy issues primarily related to Google Buzz. The arrangement compels the search giant to ask users to “opt-in” before sharing their information — something that no other entity has been asked to do.

In a blog post explaining the new features, Google says Gmail will soon have “fewer irrelevant ads.” Gmail’s importance ranking — say, if an ad is marked “urgent” — will be applied to ads as well. The ads will also begin to incorporate more local offers and coupons.

The post doesn’t mention the recent privacy issues Google has dealt with, but it does direct users to Gmail’s ad guidelines with respect to personal data here.

See where Google ranks on our latest list, The paidContent 50: The Most Successful Digital Media Companies In The U.S.

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