Category Archives: E-Mail Publishing

Most Major U.S. Newspaper Chains Now Have E-Mail Publishing Operations

Congratulations for the Gannett corporate staff for selecting — after more than three years of deliberations— an e-mail publishing vendor for USA Today and for all Gannett newspapers and TV stations in North America.

Gannett’s ‘quick’ selection is significant for two reasons:

First, it means that now almost all major U.S. newspaper chains have finally begun e-mail publishing operations. Gannett is the largest U.S. chain and the last to do so. Knight Ridder, Advance Publications, Tribune, New York Times, Post-Newsweek, Media News Group, and Media General already have such operations underway. This leaves Hearst and Cox as the only chains among the top 20 not to have started concerted e-mail publishing operations vendor, although a few of their newspaper sites have individually done so.

The early adopters (and I use that term relatively here) of e-mail publishing are doing indeed quite well with it:

  • Executives of the New York Times Digital’s flagship site, which truly was an early convert (1997) to e-mail publishing, have called it “one of their greatest success stories,” a revenue-generator, and a program that that also “nowadays generates approximately half of NYTimes.com’s daily pageviews.”
  • Tribune Interactive’s executives similarly have said, “Clearly it is the most successful area of Internet advertising. We needed to get into the game with a serious program.” They say that Tribune Interactive is now achieving high advertising rates with it.
  • Executives of Belo Interactive, which ranks perhaps 11th among the 10 largest U.S. newspaper chains, have said they’ve charging on average between $175 to $350 CPM rates for ad on their newspapers’ e-mails and that, “It’s not uncommon for us to send an e-mail with a $400 CPM.” Those CPMs are a magnitude higher than most newspaper sites’ banner rates.

    Second, Gannett’s ‘quick’ decision was typical of most other newspaper chains, which have come to e-mail publishing late or else without much effort at generating revenues.. At the roots of this are two unfortunate characteristics of most online newspapers: minickry and department factionalism.

  • Most newspapers’ Web sites are run by Editorial department staff or alumni, who run e-mail publishing primarily as a way of disseminating news, without much concern using it for advertising. That’s a remarkable waste when you consider that e-mail publishing has otherwise proven to be the most successful means of Internet advertising.
  • Meanwhile, most newspaper advertising staffs that do use e-mail publishing unfortunately mimic the often shady ways that direct marketers use it, ways that can make journalists cringe. I know about many newspaper ad staff that, despite their sites’ e-mail publishing programs proclaiming to be ‘opt-in’, have bought lists of e-mail addresses from brokers or simply import their advertisers’ lists, then began to send unsolicited advertising e-mails to tens of thousands of unwilling recipients. There are no better ways to get newspapers listed as offenders on anti-spam ‘black hole’ list. (I know of case this year at one of the ten largest U.S. newspapers in which the online ad department began doing those things despite vociferous objections from the site’s vice president of new media, who eventually resigned in protest.)

    Most Editorial and Advertising departments’ staffs who run U.S. newspaper Web sites have no clue what their newspapers’ Circulation staff do. Let me now enlighten them: Circulation staff make sure that more people read an edition each and every day. According to the Newspaper Association of America, 84 percent of print circulation of the average U.S. newspaper comes from direct daily delivery to homes and offices. Only some 16 percent comes from consumers remembering, and taking time, to visit sites where they can access a printed copy, despite those sites being all over town.

    If U.S. newspapers depended upon consumers remembering, and taking time, to access a printed copy daily, most of the average newspaper’s circulation would evaporate. Yet the Editorial and Advertising deparments’ staff or alumni who nowadays shovel printed content online have built their business model on that basis.

    Look at the results: the average users of a U.S. newspaper Web site visits it less than five times per month. By the way, what percentage is five days in a 31-day month? Sixteen percent. By relying solely upon consumers remembering, and taking time, to visit their newspapers’ Web sites, rather than directly delivering content daily to those online consumers, the Editorial and Advertising deparments’ staff and alumni who run those sites have achieved the same results they would have with newsprint editions if they didn’t directly deliver daily. Consumer behavior is similar on-line as off-line.

    Newspapers (and magazines and broadcasters, anyone who publishes periodically) need e-mail publishing for direct daily delivery of their online content. Moreover, periodicals need to learn much more about how to use e-mail publishing successfully. Most online periodicals are five years behind the advertising & marketing industry in general on that topic.

    I applaud the Newspaper Association of America for holding on a Webinar next week about that subject. Or for IFRA teaching a bit about it next week at IFRAexpo.

    However, newspapers won’t really learn all that much about e-mail publishing at NAA, IFRA, or Editor & Publisher magazine events. At those events, they’ll learn only what other newspapers have done. Yet, those newspapers that are doing it learned it from studying how the the advertising & marketing industry in general has used e-mail publishing — an industry that, as I said, is years ahead of the newspaper industry at this. That’s where periodical publishers need to be with these technologies: ahead of competitors, not behind.

    Newspapers need to attend E-Mail marketing conferences (such as the Direct Marketing Assocation’s Comprehensive E-mail Marketing Strategies conference next month or Jupitermedia’s E-Mail Strategies Conferences in the springtime), where they can learn from the national & local advertising professionals how legitimate (non-spam, double opt-in) e-mail marketing a billion dollar annual industry in the U.S.

    [Disclaimer: I’ve been attending those DMA and Jupitermedia events for years; been a speaker at Jupitermedia E-Mail Strategies conferences; taught the Masters Classes in e-mail publishing at the Content Summits in Zürich during the late 1990s; and was the opening keynote speaker at De Eerste Nationale Email Marketing Conferentie in Amsterdam during 2002. I’ll be publishing a research report later this year about the world’s most successful uses of e-mail publishing by newspapers and magazines. So you could say that I have a vested interest in emphasizing the importance of e-mail publishing for periodical publishing. Nevertheless, the points I’ve made above stand by themselves, despite any vested interest.]
  • A Day in the Life of a Spammer

    What if the crime of Breaking & Entering into your home were illegal only if the perpetrator wore a mask?

    Imagine if Breaking & Entering into your home were legal if the perpetrator didn’t wear a mask. Now imagine that we’re not talking about breaking & entering into your home but into your e-mail queue. In the U.S., it’s now legal to spam you if the spammer doesn’t disguise his identity.

    That’s the situation which the ironically named CAN SPAM Act of 2003 has created. Provided that the spammer doesn’t disguise his identity or subsequently agrees to not break into your e-mail again if you complain, he can spam you all he wants.

    Jim Wagner of Internet.com published a fascinating story last week about A Day in the Life of a Spammer.

    NYT Interactive E-Mail about U.S. Presidential Campaign

    NYT Democratic Convention e-mail thumbnail.gif
    “In case you missed any of these important stories, here are the Top 10 Most Read Articles from our Campaign 2004 section for the month of July (as of 11 a.m. ET, July 28).”

    So says the greeting on this e-mail from The New York Times (click the thumbnail image at left to see the full-sized GIF of the e-mail). It’s an excellent editorial use of e-mail publishing. The e-mail provides its recipients with headlines and links to the ten most read political stories in July from the newspaper’s Web site, and it features a color-coded map of the U.S. that links directly to the site’s interactive map of the 50 U.S. states so recipients can see how each of those states voted during the the past ten Presidential elections.

    Continue reading NYT Interactive E-Mail about U.S. Presidential Campaign

    More Data Why Publisher Who Don't Use E-Mail Marketing Are 'Missing the Boat'

    E-Mail Marketing Revenue per e-mail Q1 2004.gif

    DoubleClick’s analysis of e-mail marketing opening rates, click-through rates, order size, and revenues per e-mail during the 1st Quarter of 2004 gives an excellent example of why we think that most newspapers and magazines have ‘missed the boat’ by concentrating on Website publishing and not on e-mail publishing.

    DoubleClick reported that:

  • Overall delivery rates (measured as the number of email sent minus the hard and soft bounce-back rate) increased slightly to 88.8 percent an increase of 1.3 percentage points from a year ago (Q1 2003) when it was 87.5 percent.
  • Q1 2004 e-mail opening rates declined slightly to 38.2 percent from 39.2 percent during Q1 2003, as did the e-mails advertisings’ click-through rates, which fell to 8.4 percent in Q1 2004 from 8.9 percent in Q1 2003.
  • Revenues per email advertisers generated in Q1 2004 was US$0.23, which represents a decline from $0.28 in Q1 2003, but does sit within the two-year quarterly range of $0.21 to $0.29 that DoubleClick’s research has found.
  • The average order size advertisers received via e-mail marketing campaigns also declined, from $105 in Q1 2003 to $92 in Q1 2004.
  • E-mail marketer productivity, expressed as click-to-conversion rate, was stable year-over-year, at 3.3 percent in Q1 2004 compared to 3.5 percent in Q1 2003.

    Compare those results to the results that banner ads achieved for advertisers on websites. For example, DoubleClick found that the average click-through rates for all Website ads served by DoubleClick both advertisers and publishers was 0.44 percent compared to 8.4 percent for all ads sent by e-mail. E-mail advertising was 19-times more effective at generating advertising clickthroughs.

    If you publish a news or information website that generates revenues solely by selling banner ads, what would you do to achieve nearly 20-times higher results for your advertisers? Is your website being seen daily by at least 38.2 percent of its unique monthly users? Does each of those daily users generate at least $0.23 in revenues for each of your advertisers (in other words, can your ad sales staff guarantee that each advertiser will earn $230 per thousand ads purchased)? I think the answers are no — you can’t generate those results without using e-mail marketing.

    These are the reasons why the e-mail marketing operations of Belo Interactive and of Tribune Interactive each report that are routinely selling ads for $150 to $300 per thousand, far higher rates than their Website banner ads earn. It’s why Belo Interactive reports that its e-mail marketing revenues are doubling each year. It’s why New York Times Digital says that its e-mail publishing operations are one of its greatest successes.

    Nevertheless, most newspapers and most magazines eschew e-mail advertising, despite all the data and success stories otherwise. They believe that ads should be placed only on an online medium that consumers retrieve and is not routinely delivered to consumers. As if newspapers and magazines were sold only via newsstands and routinely delivered to homes & offices.

    A few even believe that the avalanche of spam that online consumers nowadays suffer has destroyed e-mail as a viable publishing or advertising medium. They cite their own anecdotal experiences at using home-grown or amateur e-mail publishing applications (such as Lyris). They ignore that all the data shows that the avalanche of spam has not in any way affected the legitimate, professional e-mail marketing signup, delivery, opening, or click-through rates.

    (By the way, DoubleClick’s analysis also showed that Travel e-mails had the highest opening rates (40.1 percent). Consumer Publisher and Consumer Products & Services e-mails had highest average click-through rates (9.6 percent and 9.5 percent respectively.)

  • The U.S. Government Told Them They can SPAM

    CAN is an auxiliary verb in the English language. It is used to indicate ability. And that was the unintentional irony when the U.S. Congress passed into law the CAN SPAM Act six months ago. Although the legislators thought that the acronym stood for ‘Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing, what the CAN SPAM Act of 2003 actually did was legally tells most marketers that they can SPAM (provided that those marketers don’t falsifie their identities or e-mail headers or hijack third-party’s computers).

    The result six months later is that 82 percent of all U.S. e-mail is now SPAM, according to MessageLabs latest survey. That’s up from 50 percent in mid-2003 and 63 percent in January. (All the more remarkable: MessageLabs reports that the avalanche of SPAM hasn’t yet changed how people use e-mail.)

    The CAN SPAM Act overrode several U.S. states’ more stringent anti-spam laws. That’s too bad because, despite the continuing avalanche of SPAM, no one has yet been convicted under the CAN SPAM Act. Legitimate companies continue to send mass e-mailings of unsolicited commercial messages. And illegitiate companies and individuals have merely disguised their practices to make them appear to fit the legal limits of the CAN SPAM Act.

    Unsolicited mass e-mailings of commercial messages to people who don’t have a recent (ie., within 12 months) business relationship with the sender should be outright prohibited. The issue here isn’t ‘commercial free speech’, but technology that has tipped the balance too far into the hands of the marketers and out of the countervailings hands of the consumers. It is why in 1996 the U.S. government banned robotic voice telemarketing and telemarketing by facsimile machines. It’s also why the U.S. government last year initiated a ‘Do Not Call’ anti-telemarketing registry for consumers. But the U.S. government has failed to act decisively about SPAM.

    So, Spamming will continue to accelerate until consumers reach enough of a boiling point about it pressure their governmental representatives to act decisively against SPAM. I predict that will happen late next year. I don’t believe that people will simply give up on e-mail (just as they demonstrably haven’t despite 82 percent of it being SPAM). E-mail is too valuable a resource for them. Nor can SPAM be stopped by purely technical measures such as SPAM filters (as anyone using them can see).

    I wonder what unique circle of hell Dante would have imagined for Spammers.

    CheetahMail Purchased by Experian

    E-mail publishing applications service provider CheetahMail has been purchased by credit reporting and business information corporation Experian.

    CheetahMail started in 1997 as a private spinoff of the newspaper industry’s failed New Century Network (NCN) consortium. CheetahMail initially specialized in providing e-mail publishing to newspapers, but soon redirected its focus toward providing e-mail marketing applications to retail marketers and gained clients such as Neiman Marcus, Starbucks, Discovery Channel and Bloomingdale’s. Back in 2001 Experian, formerly known as TRW Credit Services, aquired another e-mail publishing ASP, Exactis.

    Our congratulations to CheetahMail founders (and former NCN staffers) Irene Pedraza and David Villeger!

    NAA Legal Advice to E-Mail Publishers

    On the Newspaper Association of America’s Digital Edge Web site, Attorney William Baker offers some basic advice to e-mail publishers about U.S. anti-spam laws.

    In our experience, the Editorial departments at newspaper, magazines, and broadcasters generally obey anti-spam laws.However, we’ve seen (and stopped) some tabloids from forcibly opting in (an oxymoron) potential subscribers, and we’ve often seen print publications’ Circulation or Advertising departments send unsolicited commercial marketing e-mail (which can include subscription solicitations).

    All should e-mail only to people who have expressly opted-in to receive those e-mails from that specific publication.

    The 11 November IT Professionals GnomeReport

    We thank Chris Pirillo of Lockergnome, who today is attempting to clear up Digital Deliverance’s “deep misunderstandings of the RSS feed and its accomplaying blog technology.” He has been leading a charge that publishers should abandon e-mail publishing in exchange for RSS feed syndication. Because his opinions have been picked up by some mainstream publishing pundits, we think his misinformation has been hurting mainstream publishers. That’s why we’ve been countering it. He now writes:

      “An RSS feed allows micropublishers a place akin to a shop in the mall, while a traditional, static, website only gives them a store out on the edge of town. They still need to advertise the business in some way, location notwithstanding.”

    We now deeply understand that his previous article, Why RSS Will Kill E-Mail Publishing, was only about micropublishers and not about all publishers, something that his previous articles omitted.

    We also now understand that because Pirillo calls them ‘static‘, micropublishers must not be constantly able to update their sites. We agree that blog software makes a site easy to update, but we didn’t previously know that regular Web sites can’t be constantly updated. We’ve made note to ask Janine Warner to rewrite her instructional books on Macromedia DreamWeaver about that and we’ll also alert the folks at NetObjects Fusion.

    It’s also good to hear that using RSS is the equivalent of “having a shop at the mall.” We haven’t heard that phrase since the early day of the Web, when having a Web site was like “having a shop at the mall.” What doomed that metaphor then was the proliferation of Web sites. And that’s already happened with RSS. For example, Syndic8 already counts more than 38,000 RSS feeds! Quite a huge mall!

    Piriilo continues:

      “Employing high-priced e-mail publishing firms will not change the fact that people don’t want to see any more spam, period. They are getting sick of e-mail altogether. Just because a number of high-profile companies still do it doesn’t make it right. You cannot forget the consumer in the equation when you’re [developing] a marketing plan, and continuing to force-feed spam [to] people is no way to market any product. As well, while large companies are claiming big numbers of subscribers and no downturn, that’s because when people are no longer interested in an e-mailed product, they most often don’t bother to unsubscribe – they simply delete. So subscriber lists are no reliable indication of the number of people actually reading a publication.”

    We presume that the line “Employing high-priced e-mail publishing firms will not change the fact…” alludes to how two of our partners also run the e-mail publishing application service provider PublishMail LLC. Although they do currently serve six daily newspapers each with more than 100,000 print circulation, they also serves more than 100 weekly newspapers nationwide — a particularly penurious clientele that would never be able to afford high-priced firms.

    Perhaps he’s never been in a competitive business, but Pirillo apparently doesn’t realize the fact that e-mail publishing vendors (and even e-mail marketing vendors) are in an extremely competitive businesses and their rates have been declining according to Moore’s Law for the past five years. After all, if large numbers of e-mail were expensive to send, then spammers wouldn’t be e-mailing.

    Moreover, none of the examples we’d previously cited in other response to Pirillo used high priced firms. In fact, the ones we cited used in-house solutions or inexpensive but professional e-mail publishing application providers. The examples we previously cited focused on that professional angle: employing legitimate vendors who know how to solve the problems. We never wrote anything about high-priced vendors. So, his phrase “Employing high-priced e-mail publishing firms will not change the fact…” is a rhetorical red herring, an attempt to make it seem like the ‘big boys’ are picking on him and that his is the only solution for the average person.

    Indeed …

      Slamming and insulting small business owners because of their lack of big budgets, and suggesting they are somehow less valuable because of that, is not any way to make one’s own advice any more valuable, either.

    … is the same rhetorical device. Do notice that in none of our previous responses to Pirillo have we ever slammed, insulted, or disparaged any small business owners (indeed, Digital Deliverance is one) or questioned their budgets. His rhetoric merely attempts to distract your attention.

      …people don’t want to see any more spam, period. They are getting sick of e-mail altogether. Just because a number of high-profile companies still do it doesn’t make it right.

    This apparently is meant to infer that firms like The New York Times, Financial Times, Economist, and The Wall Street Journal are spamming people. After all, those were the high profile companies we had mentioned. We weren’t aware that a solicited e-mail of the top stories from The New York Times was a spam, but thanks to Pirillo we now deeply understand that it is.

      You cannot forget the consumer in the equation when you’re [developing] a marketing plan, and continuing to force-feed spam [to] people is no way to market any product.

    Ditto. We thank Pirillo for letting us deeply understand that organizations like The New York Times, Financial Times, Economist, and The Wall Street Journal are forgetting the consumer in their business plans and are force feeding spam.

      As well, while large companies are claiming big numbers of subscribers and no downturn, that’s because when people are no longer interested in an e-mailed product, they most often don’t bother to unsubscribe – they simply delete. So subscriber lists are no reliable indication of the number of people actually reading a publication.

    We agree that this often happens. And, as we’d mentioned in our earlier responses to Pirillo, that is why the actual opening rates and clickthrough rates are more reliable indications of the number of people who actually read an e-mailed publication. We’ve said that all along. If someone has clicked through a link on an e-mail, the chances are they’ve actually read it.

      What is more permanent is that an RSS feed provides anyone who wishes to communicate with a large number of people the ability to do so, free of spam concerns, and with the assurance that the message will go where it’s intended to go, unhampered by unknown, unforeseeable problems at the receiving end.

    In reality, a RSS feed doesn’t convey the entire content of a blog entry unless that entry was short. It instead truncates anything more than a few hundred words and the publisher hoping that readers will then clickthrough to the actual (blog) Web site. Spam on blogs is becoming an increasing problem, as the BBC and Wired.com each reported last month and The Feature coincidentally reported today. We’re also pleased to see that veteran blogger Mitch Ratcliffe‘s blog is back online today after a week of having been knocked offline. (We learned about that from veteran blogger J.D.Lasica‘s new blog, who’s old blog also went kaput on him a few months ago.) It’s good to understand that there is an online vehicle free of spam and assured of operating unhampered by unknown, unforeseeable problems at either end.

    We’d previosuly written that most consumers won’t use RSS even if that technology is built into other software or even into the computer operating system, and cited the examples of how most consumers don’t use the Usenet newsreaders were built into e-mail apps or the Active Desktop feed receiving capabilities that were built into the Windows operating system. Pirillo responds:

      “The reason that aggregators will be used while Usenet and Active Desktop [are, comparatively,] not is that aggregators are easy to use and unobtrusive. You choose [only the] updates [that you find important], and that’s what you get. Right now there is at least one aggregator I know of, Bloglines, that could be easily used by anyone who has been online before. (For reasons that should be obvious, RSS feeds are of no value to anyone without a computer and online access.)

      “Active Desktop and PointCast gave me limited choices, along with a lot of stuff I didn’t want, which interfered with my other work at the computer (and Usenet has always been a mystery to me). I’ve never been able to configure it properly, so I gave up on that a long time ago. They are both completely different than RSS aggregators.”

    So, “aggregators” (RSS newsreader software) will be used, although the easy-to-use and unobtrusive Usenet and Active Desktop softwares were not, because the aggregators are easy-to-use and unobtrusive? As for Active Desktop, it gives you only the feeds you ask, like RSS does. If Pirillo got anything he didn’t want via an Active Desktop feed, that is because those feeds, like RSS feeds, send whatever their publishers wants to send. And we’re sorry to hear that the decade-old Usenet system is a mystery for this techno-guru to use. Ditto his:

      “Once my local newspaper gets an RSS feed, I’d probably look at it daily, too. I get an e-mailed update from one newspaper, but most often it gets deleted inadvertently, so I don’t see that one very often, either.”

    Gotta’ watch that Delete key! Nevertheless, we thank Pirillo for correcting our “deep misunderstanding” that his previous article, Why RSS Will Kill E-Mail Publishing, wasn’t about e-mail publishing in general but only about how some micropublishers might consider also using RSS. As indeed we are.

    If you’re a micropublisher operating a site aimed at people who might be using RSS newsreader software, take Pirillo’s advice. But if you’re not a micropublisher or your site isn’t aimed at people who might not be using RSS newsreader software, don’t abandon your site’s use of solicited e-mail publishing.

    Effects of the EU 'Ban on Spam' Directive?

    At the beginning of this month, the European Union’s ‘ban on spam’ directive (PDF format) took effect:

  • ‘Cookies’ and other invisible tracking devices that can collect information on Internet users may be utilised only if the user is given clear information about the purpose of any such invisible activity and is offered the right to refuse it.
  • Location data generated by mobile phones can only be further used or passed on by network operators with explicit user consent. The only exceptions are the transmission of location data to emergency services, and transmission of data to law enforcement authorities, subject to strict conditions.
  • E-mail marketing is only allowed with prior consent (‘opt-in’). Disguised identities and invalid return addresses are also outlawed. The new regime also covers SMS messages and other electronic messages sent to any mobile and fixed terminal.

    Enforcement of the Directive is left to the individual EU countries. Several are running behind schedule with the new regime’s implementation. Only Austria, Denmark, Italy and Sweden had brought their own national laws in line with the new directive prior to its 1 November deadline.

    If you’re a publisher in an EU country, please tell us if the directive if effecting you. We’ll keep your identity confidential and will share with you any research findings.

  • 'White Collar' Spammers

    There’s a good story today on the front page of The New York Times about how otherwise reputable companies become ‘white collar’ spammers by purchasing and using lists of consumers’ e-mail addresses. If you’ve provided your persona demographic information and registered to use the NYTimes.com Web site, you can read the story (the story is the text that appears to the far left of the giant banner ad and briefly beneath the animated banner ad).

    The companies of course insist that every such incident is an analomy, claiming that just because the e-mail addressees never actually gave their company permission to e-mail marketing material doesn’t mean the unsolicited marketing material send is unsolicited marketing material.

    The Times quotes New Medium marketing expert as saying that such companies stretch users’ consent beyond any recognition. “The people who are talking about permission marketing are almost entirely doing it wrong,” Mr. Godin said. “Greed and avarice drove people to wreck the system.”

    Meanwhile, today’s Internet Advertising Report says that U.S. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert might bring the U.S. Senate’s ‘Can Spam Act’ to a full vote in the House this week. The Senate last week, by a vote of 97-0, approvate legislation that would requires bulk commercial e-mailers to include opt-out provisions and valid header and subject lines or else face civil and criminal penalties. The Senate provisions would still allow bulk commercial e-mailers to use purchased lists of consumers who’ve requested commercial information about other things, which is the ‘White Collar Spam’ that The Times story today reports.

    Last year, we lost the business of a newspaper that wanted to sell to e-mail marketers its e-mail publishing subscriber lists and wanted to begin publishing e-mails to people who didn’t request its news e-mails. We refused to cooperate. We won’t disclose which newspaper this is, but it’s among the the largest in the U.S. We say shame on it for spamming. Its editorial pages decry spam, but its own marketing executives are shameless spammers.

    Never mass send commercial e-mails to anyone who didn’t explicitly request to receive them from you. If you instead do so, you hurt your customers, your reputation, and your future marketing if you do so.

    85 Percent of Americans Disagree with DMA on Spam

    InsightExpress found that 85 percent of the 1,500 U.S. online consumers it interviewed disagree with the Direct Marketing Association’s various pro-marketing definitions of spam:

    • 43 percent agreed that “Any unsolicited e-mail message, commercial or ogtherwise, is spam.”
    • Another 18 percent agreed that “Any unsolicited, commercial e-mail message, whether or not I’ve ever done business with the sender, is spam.”
    • Another 23 percent agreed that “Any unsolicited, commercial e-mail message receive from a company I’ve never done business with, is spam.”
    • Only ten percent agreed with the DMA’s latest definition of spam: “Any email that misrepresents an offer, or misrepresent the originator, or in some way way attempts to confuse or defraud people.”

    Moreover, 86 percent feel that their inbox is just that — their inbox and feel that they should have the ability to control the messages that they receive. Among the study’s other findings:

    • 89 percent said companies should tell them whenever their e-mail address is given to 3rd parties.
    • 84 percent said laws are needed against spam.
    • 75 percent would like to see the government establish a ‘Do Not Spam’ registry similar to the anti-telemarketing ‘Do Not Call’ registry recently setup, and 78 percent would sign onto such an anti-spam registry.
    • 72 percent favor the strictest possible anti-spam legislation.
    • 72 percent said that all e-mailed advertisments should be being labeled ‘Advertising’ in the e-mail subject field.
    • 69 percent want all commercial e-mails to have opt-out mechanisms.

    And on the subject of how much time spam steal from them:

    • 59 percent spend less than five minutes daily weeding spam.
    • 22 percent spend five to 15 minutes daily.
    • 9 percent spend 15 to 30 minutes daily.
    • 5 percent spent 30 to an hour daily.
    • 2 percent more time than that daily.

    We mention that time data because many online publishing professionals — who are power users of e-mail and often have their e-mail addresses posted online where spammers can see them, spend a lot of time daily weeding spam — are prone to solipsism and tend to think that everyone else online is like themselves. Not so. Unfortunately, spam nowadays comprises for 40 to 50 percent of all e-mail, and an average consumer who receives six e-mails daily is just as upset to receive three spams as is the power users who receives 100 e-mails daily and finds 50 of those are spams. But the power user will spend much more time weeding out that spam.

    Here are Insight Express’ PowerPoint® slides about its survey [Note: InsightExpress has ‘optimized’ its Web PowerPoint® display to only work properly with MS Internet Explorer. We’re likewise optimizing gasoline only to work with Chevys.]

    DoubleClick & AOL: Consumers Do Try Unsubscribing From Spams

    Last month, a posting on the Poynter Institute’s E-Media Tidbits site highlighted a marketing newsletter report (which the newsletter has since put behind a paid access archive) that unpublished parts of a Quris study of 1,691 American e-mail users found that 92.3% didn’t bother unsubscribing from spams (hence 7.7% did try).

    We objected to Poynter. We noted that none of Quris’ published surveys and reports contain any such data nor conclusions. We also pointed out that Poynter, an institute that trains journalist, shouldn’t be citing as fact a second-hand report about a survey when that survey itself as published doesn’t contain any such data or claim. Poynter’s response to us was that the marketing newsletter’s editor claims that Quris had told her that more data from the survey would be published, including data that would verify what the marketing newsletter wrote. Poynter let the Tidbit stand.

    A month has since passed without the claimed data being published by Quris. Maybe Quris someday will publish that data. Meanwhile, DoubleClick and AOL this week published a surveyed containing first-hand data contrary to Poynter’s second-hand report.

    DoubleClick and AOL surveyed 2,357 AOL users about spam. Not surprisingly, 62% said that spam was “very frustrating.” However, 72% of the frustrated (44.6% of all respondents) attempted to unsubscribe from the spams. This published survey’s unsubscribe percentage is six times higher that that claimed in the Poynter Tidbit. That difference isn’t within the realm of statistical variance: either the claimed data not published by Quris is wrong or the published data by DoubleClick and AOL is.

    We’ll the first-hand published results about a larger group versus a second-hand report about unpublished data from a smaller group. Either way, the Quris and DoubleClick/AOL surveys both report that, despite rising problems with spams and e-mail viruses, American consumers continue to read and value e-mails sent regularly from trusted companies, including news media. Indeed, we know of no American news media that have reported declining e-mail publishing circulation or e-mail opening rates, despite uninformed claims that e-mail publishing is dying as a vehicle for news publishing.

    Richard M. Smith on Wasted Data-Mining

    ChannelSeven has an interview with Privacy Consultant Richard M. Smith, who’s now semi-retired. Among other topics, he talks about how much data-mining is actually wasted by marketers:

      “Web sites and database companies collect an amazing amount of data that isn’t used. One offline example is the shopper loyalty card. A ton of data is collected there, but very little of that information is actually used. It’s a bizarre human characteristic, sort of a packrat mentality. We collect it and then it sits around.”

    Smith also talks about when he thinks the type of intrusive marketing technologies used in the movie Minority Report will become reality (“more like ten years away than 50 years away”). He believes that most spams don’t originate from e-mail list selling (“I think it’s a myth that if you give your e-mail address to one company a thousand companies get it”) but from Website spiders and e-mail harvester programs.