Email Deliverability Quarterly: Gmail’s Spam Rate Recalculation, CPRA Passes, and More

January 5, 2021 | 5 minute read
Chad S. White
Head of Research, Oracle Digital Experience Agency
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Email deliverability is constantly changinginbox providers adjust their filtering algorithms, blocklists tweak their listing criteria, and consumers keep evolving their definition of spam. Even the best email marketing programs sometimes suffer deliverability problems.

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 Recalculates Their Spam Rate

In early October, Google posted a banner message on the Gmail postmaster site notifying users that they’ve changed the way they calculate their spam rate “to better represent user feedback as well as to ensure it’s more actionable.” Spam rate is their version of the complaint rate that other feedback loops report.

“Instead of using total volume as the denominator in their spam rate calculations, they started using inbox volume,” says Clea Moore, Director of Strategy for Email Deliverability Services at Oracle Digital Experience Agency. “For senders with mail landing in the spam folder, the old calculation deflated the spam rate, making it more difficult to identify campaigns that were driving up complaint rates.”

What this means for marketers: 

“As a result of this change, some senders saw increases in the spam rate reported in Google Postmaster Tools (GPT) as of mid-October,” says Clea. “Large increases in the rate correlate with mail landing in the spam folder. The larger the increase, the more spam folder placement the sender has been experiencing. For example, you can see the jump in spam rate in one of our clients below. That said, the change in their formula doesn’t appear to have affected senders’ Gmail reputations.” 


“A clear benefit of the change at Gmail is that some senders are seeing an increase in Feedback Loop (FBL) Identifiers flagged by Gmail”, says Shine Lyui, Senior Consultant for Email Deliverability Services at Oracle Digital Experience Agency. “The identifiers in GPT’s FBL reports can be tied back to the launch codes in Oracle Responsys Campaign Management, so senders know exactly which campaigns generated higher spam complaints at Gmail.” 

Below, you can see that same client noticed an increase in the Feedback Loop identifiers flagged after the change.

California expands CCPA with passage of CPRA

California voters passed the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (CPRA) as a ballot initiative during the November 2020 general election. CPRA is seen as an expansion of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which became law in California in June 2018 and added protections for consumers’ private data in the state.

“CCPA affords California residents the rights to know what personal information (PI) companies collect, to delete that personal data, and to opt-out of the collection of personal data, among other protections,” says Brian Sullivan, Strategy Director of Email Deliverability Services at Oracle Digital Experience Agency. “CPRA expands the scope of CCPA to prevent not only the sale of PI, but also the sharing of it. This closes a loophole some companies used to avoid CCPA compliance by realizing no revenue when passing PI to third parties. CPRA also limits the use of ‘sensitive’ personal information, curbs the time allowed to retain PI, and increases by threefold penalties for violations involving minors, and expands private right of action.”

What this means for marketers: 

“Like CCPA, CPRA is an opt-out law,” says Brian. “That puts the burden of action on consumers to take the time to opt-out, a requirement that will limit adoption by consumers. Even so, compliance burdens on businesses are significant. CPRA is set to take effect in January of 2023. Businesses who market to California residents should study the new law, understand the new compliance actions, and plan toward compliance by the effective date.”

“This is the second stringent privacy rights law California residents have approved in a relatively short period of time,” says Brian, who adds that many other states have been enacting new privacy legislation as well. This is on top of Apple and other big tech firms offering new privacy controls for consumers at both the device level and services level. 

“This growing trend toward greater privacy protections,” says Brian, “may be signaling possible privacy legislation at the federal level in order to create a single national standard. Marketers should stay abreast of these developments and be ready to adapt their practices to not only stay in compliance with the law, but to stay in sync with changing market conditions.”

Yahoo Mail supports AMP for Email 

Verizon Media Group announced that its Yahoo Mail platform now supports AMP for Email. The media company also said that they were planning to add AMP for Email support to AOL Mail and their mobile platforms in the near future.

What this means for marketers: 

“Verizon Media’s support for AMP for Email helps the standard regain some momentum after it recently lost the support of Microsoft, which rolled out their own version called Actionable Messages,” says Clea.

“But the bigger issue is adoption among major sending platforms,” she says. “Senders can’t send an AMP email if their email service provider doesn’t support the new MIME type that’s required. To justify doing that additional development work, ESPs are waiting for their customers to clamor for this new feature while marketers are waiting to see the value of implementing AMP for their emails. That has the industry stuck in the proverbial chicken-and-egg scenario.”

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


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

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

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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