The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a UK advertising watchdog, has cleared Microsoft of any wrongdoing over a controversial Scroogled advertisement, which the Redmond giant recently ran against Google's Gmail service. The ASA received complaints stating that the advertisement was misleading and that Microsoft was being hypocritical.
In the Scroogled advertisement, Microsoft promotes its email service Outlook.com and criticizes Google’s Gmail for scanning the contents of users' emails for commercial purposes, such as targeted adverts.
Just recently, a Scroogled advertisement aired on UK radio and created a bit of a stir. "The radio ad opens with a sentence of seemingly indecipherable language, the type Microsoft cheekily claims Gmail users will have to adopt if they want to stop Google from scanning their messages to glean personal information to sell to advertisers," The Guardian reports. "Pig Latin may be hard to understand, but you probably need it if you use Gmail, because Gmail scans every word of your emails to sell ads," the advertisement stated.
As expected, the advertisement received two complaints. The complaint mentioned that Microsoft also indulges in similar activities. Microsoft, on the other hand, has stated that Outlook offers greater privacy options than Gmail. The company claimed that it only runs “protective” scans to check for viruses and spam.
The ASA’s verdict favored Microsoft and stated that Microsoft’s advertisement doesn't breach UK rules. The authority found Outlook’s “protective” scan as a “standard practice.” "Because the ad made clear that the privacy claims were in relation to ad targeting, which Outlook.com does not carry out, we therefore concluded that the ad was not misleading," said the ASA.