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View Time Optimization (VTO) Coming to Verizon Media

by Andrew Lutts, Founder & CEO

The nice thing about free webmail accounts like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo! and others is that they are free, portable, easy, convenient, and universal.

The bad thing about them is their complete lack of privacy.

Know that virtually EVERYTHING you do on those free platforms is tracked, measured, compared, analyzed, and lots more. In fact, these free account providers do way more than just read your email and serve up targeted advertising to you. But hey, it's free, right?

Here's some information on Verizon Media's new View Time Optimization (VTO) offering.

View Time Optimization (VTO)

Perhaps you have heard of Send Time Optimization, where an email marketing program intelligently figures out the most likely time you will read an email (because it knows this information having tracked your behavior and previous interaction with your email) and sends your email to you at that optimum time.

View Time Optimization is when a mailbox provider, in this case Verizon (Verizon, Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo!), takes your emails that you have subscribed to, holds them for a while, and then delivers them to you when you are "actively engaging with your email inbox."

Creepy? Perhaps. A good idea? For who?

Why are they doing this? Apparently, in their words, to give their email mailbox customers a better experience. In effect, they are trying to give some of your email more favorable handling over other email.

In reviewing the Verizon Postmaster blog post, it seems innocent enough. But is it that simple?

At Verizon Media, they say they believe that tracking email users is wrong. And yet, aren't they tracking you to determine when you are actively engaging with your email?

And don't they track your opens and clicks in your webmail account to determine which emails are being engaged with, and thus should be handled with preference, compared to other emails that less people are engaging with, and are treated less favorably?

Further speculation can be made into why a mailbox provider would hold your email before delivering it to you. If you get an email at 2 AM that talks about alternative health, controversial political views, vaccination theories, a video recently taken down from YouTube, a link to an alternative Twitter post, or "fake news," do you think you will get that email delivered to you at 8 AM when you check your email?

We simply don't know, yet. If other Verizon users on the network seem to have an issue with the content of a certain email, as exhibited by their handling of the email message, should you still get the email and decide for yourself?

Mailbox providers like Verizon, Yahoo, Outlook, and Gmail know an awful lot of information about you. And honestly they are trying their best to provide you with a superior end user experience. But in that quest, they are making some difficult decisions around what you get, see, and read every day. Some of those choices may or may not be the same choices you would make yourself.

Read Verizon's take on it at their Postmaster Blog.