Email Deliverability Quarterly: Gmail launches BIMI pilot, DigiCert-Valimail partnership, and more

October 6, 2020 | 6 minute read
Chad S. White
Head of Research, Oracle Digital Experience Agency
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Email deliverability is constantly changing, as inbox providers adjust their filtering algorithms, blocklists tweak their listing criteria, and consumers evolve their definition of spam. That’s why even the best email marketing programs suffer deliverability problems sometimes.

To help you avoid trouble, the Email Deliverability Services team at Oracle Digital Experience Agency shares the latest news and tips for what to watch out for. Here’s what’s going on at key inbox providers and what it means for email marketers:

Gmail launches BIMI pilot

Google has launched a Gmail pilot for Brand Indicators for Message Identification, or BIMI (pronounced Bih-mee). Leveraging authentication protocols SPF and DKIM, as well as DMARC, BIMI is a new standard that allows compliant brands to have their chosen logo displayed next to their sender name in the inbox.

“BIMI gives you free ad impressions for every email you send because of your logo displaying,” says Daniel Deneweth, head of email deliverability services at Oracle Digital Experience Agency. “Implementing it for your email program not only gives you branding control, it also helps keep email safe through reinforcement of proper email authentication, since that’s a requirement for BIMI.”

While Gmail’s BIMI pilot is currently limited to a few select brands, it will make BIMI available to all senders in the future. 

What this means for marketers: 

“Gmail and other inbox providers have indicated that while your logo may be showing up in their mobile apps now, they might not later unless you’ve implemented BIMI,” says Heather Goff, strategic director of email deliverability services at Oracle Digital Experience Agency. “So, it makes sense to get this in place now and ahead of the rush.”

She adds, “Keep in mind that Gmail’s implementation of BIMI requires marketers to jump through a few more hoops than Yahoo’s implementation. For instance, Gmail requires that companies authenticate their top-level domain and get Verified Mark Certificates, which requires a trademarked logo with certain formatting requirements. Getting the properly formatted and trademarked logo, as well as certificates in place, can sometimes add time and effort to the process for brands.”

BIMI gets a boost with DigiCert-Valimail partnership

DigiCert and Valimail have announced a partnership to help companies shorten the time it takes them to meet the requirements of Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI). That includes helping companies secure Verified Mark Certificates, which Gmail requires as part of their BIMI certification process.

What this means for marketers: 

“Verified Mark Certificates provide a way of certifying that a brand image is unique to a brand,” says Brian Sullivan, strategy director of email deliverability services at Oracle Digital Experience Agency. “Only trademarked images can be certified with a VMC, and only a brand can procure a VMC for their image. VMCs for BIMI are optional at Verizon Media Group domains (Yahoo.com, Aol.com, and Verizon.net), but are required in Gmail’s BIMI pilot. Requiring a VMC for BIMI enhances brand confidence among users and in Gmail’s spam filters.”

As mentioned earlier, getting a VMC adds time and effort to BIMI adoption, which is why the DigiCert-Valimail partnership is notable, says Clea Moore, director of deliverability strategy at Oracle CX Marketing Consulting.

“This partnership will be extremely valuable for senders because the Verified Mark Certificate is a relatively new standard and comes with a bit of a learning curve since many brands don’t have the proper trademark registration in place for the logo image they want displayed using BIMI,” she says. “Also, while Gmail is currently the only inbox provider requiring VMCs, it’s likely that other ISPs will eventually follow in their footsteps and require them for BIMI participation.”

Final text of CCPA approved

In August, the State of California finalized the text of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Affecting all companies that market to or hold data about Californians, the law was signed into law on June 28, 2018, went into effect on January 1, 2020, and went into enforcement on July 1, 2020.

What this means for marketers: 

“California continues to be at the forefront of consumer data privacy in the United States,” says Brian. “The final regulations have some significant revisions from the original rules, but still impose significant burdens on companies to protect consumer data. The regulations go into immediate effect, so marketers should be aware of and comply with the law.”

"The two most significant changes," says Heather, "were removing the 'Do Not Sell My Info' option and the requirement for businesses to offer extensive offline interactions to facilitate consumer awareness of their right to opt-out. Those changes will make compliance easier and cheaper for businesses."

But it’s not just California privacy rules that brands need to keep track of anymore, adds Heather. “Other states like Nevada, Texas, New York, and Massachusetts have either amended their privacy law or are considering privacy bills as well,” she says. “So, working toward compliance and designing your digital programs with privacy in mind is critical.” 

Gmail launches Postmaster API

Google has launched a beta of a Gmail Postmaster API tool. Senders and email service providers rely on this critical information from Gmail, and have been asking for API access. 

What this means for marketers: 

“Until this release, Gmail Postmaster Tools users could only see Google’s representation of the sender reputation within Google’s online portal,” says Brian. “With the new API, users will be able to export data on their IP and domain reputation, spam complaints, delivery errors, and more for use outside Google Postmaster Tools. Our Email Deliverability Services team is excited to correlate Gmail’s data with our platform data for a more holistic view of sender reputation.”

Internet giant J2 Global acquires Kickbox

Email verification firm Kickbox has been acquired by J2 Global. The acquisition came shortly after Kickbox announced the launch of a new Email Deliverability Suite.

J2 Global, which provides internet services through its Business Cloud Services and Digital Media divisions, has been on a buying spree during 2020. Kickbox is its fourth acquisition this year. The company is also the owner of the email automation company Campaigner. 

What this means for marketers: 

“Following on recent acquisitions of deliverability companies including Edatasource, Return Path, and 250ok, the Kickbox acquisition underscores the value of email deliverability solutions in the current digital marketing ecosystem,” says Daniel.

Want more email deliverability news and what it means for your company? Check out some of our other Email Deliverability Quarterly posts:

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Need help with your digital marketing campaigns? Oracle Digital Experience Agency has hundreds of marketing and communication experts ready to help Oracle customers create stronger connections with their customers, partners, and employees, even if they’re not using an Oracle platform as the foundation of that experience. Our award-winning specialists can handle everything from creative and strategy to content planning and project management. For example, our full-service email marketing clients generate 24% higher open rates, 30% higher click rates, and 9% lower unsubscribe rates than Oracle Responsys customers who aren’t.

For help overcoming your challenges or seizing your opportunities, talk to your Oracle account manager, visit us online, or email us at OracleAgency_US@Oracle.com.

Want to better understand your email marketing risks and opportunities, take advantage of our free Email Marketing Assessment. Our experts will check your deliverability, review your email creative, audit your signup process, do a partial competitive analysis, and more. If interested in this free assessment, reach out to us at OracleAgency_US@Oracle.com.

Chad S. White

Head of Research, Oracle Digital Experience Agency

Chad S. White is the Head of Research at Oracle Digital Experience Agency and the author of four editions of Email Marketing Rules and nearly 4,000 posts about digital and email marketing. A former journalist, he’s been featured in more than 100 publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Advertising Age. Chad was named the ANA's 2018 Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year. Follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Mastodon.


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