Fewer Gmail Users Are Opening Retailers' Messages This Shopping Season - NYTimes.com:

The flip side for retailers is that by storing images on their own servers, they received much more information about Gmail users who opened their messages, such as their locations. Now, they know someone opened an email but not much more.

But what does that mean exactly?  First, how do they know you opened their email?  Second, how did they know your location before?  Just because the request came with your IP and other metadata?

The post in general is pretty interesting.  It pretty clearly shows a Google who is lessening the usefulness of email as a junk mail marketing tool -- adverts automatically skip your inbox, and metadata from image requests stay with Google now.  And that makes sense, of course, since Google is in competition with just those folks.

All the more reason not to use gmail.com to access your mail, and to always access mail images via proxy if you bother to access them at all.

Edit:  A later paragraph is just as/even more interesting for a different reason:

Gmail shoppers, who tend to be wealthier and more tech-savvy, clicked on retail emails 14.5 percent more than Yahoo users before the change to Gmail, according to Epsilon. But by October, the difference had shrunk to 4.2 percent, indicating that Gmail users were ignoring marketing emails more often.

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