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Google is officially rolling out support for email authentication specification BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification), a year after it first announced plans for a BIMI pilot for Gmail.
Bank of America is among the launch partners for BIMI as it enters its broader support phase.
Alive and kicking
Despite rumors to the contrary, email remains an integral part of most companies’ communication software stack, with an estimated 80% of businesses still using email as their primary communication tool. In the past six months or so, we’ve seen a slew of email-focused companies raise gargantuan funding rounds, including Exclaimer, which specializes in email signature management, and SparkPost, which focuses on email delivery management.
In short, email isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but industry is having to enhance efforts to improve email security. It’s estimated that every day scammers send more than 3 billion domain-spoofing emails — emails that appear to be from a legitimate source (e.g. a bank) using a forged sender address.
Using BIMI, verified brands can elect to display their corporate logos prominently in the email avatar slot across email clients and service providers. For this to work, however, email service providers have to leverage BIMI, an emerging industry effort that is currently backed by notable members, including MailChimp, Twilio’s SendGrid, Valimail, Fastmail, Proofpoint, Verizon Media, and — importantly — Google.
Up until now, BIMI had only been fully adopted by Verizon’s email clients, including Yahoo and AOL. Australia’s Fastmail has also announced a pilot BIMI program. As Gmail is one of the world’s most popular email service providers, however, bringing full support to its users globally is a notable milestone for the BIMI standard. Besides added security, BIMI helps companies create a consistent brand image across their online channels, meaning marketers and security personnel are both likely to welcome BIMI now that Gmail is officially on board.
“BIMI provides email recipients and email security systems increased confidence in the source of emails and enables senders to provide their audience with a more immersive experience,” Google wrote in a blog post today.
It’s worth noting that BIMI will only work for businesses that have adopted DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance), an email authentication protocol that protects email domain owners from spoofing. The logo itself also has to be validated by a third-party verification authority, such as Entrust Datacard or DigiCert, which issue what is known as a Verified Mark Certificate (VMC) for trademarked logos.
Once all these steps have been carried out, Gmail said it conducts its usual “anti-abuse checks” and will then begin displaying the company logo in the avatar slot.
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