[anti-spam-wg] AOL, Yahoo to start charging for the ability to pass mail filters
From: Mally Mclane mally@localhost
Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2006 12:57:55 +0100 (CET)
AOL to charge fee as way to cut spam
By Jon Swartz, USA TODAY
SAN FRANCISCO . America Online will begin charging businesses to send
commercial e-mail to its users in the first wide-scale use of
authenticated e-mail to reduce spam. But some marketers affected by the
plan, set to start in several weeks, call it e-mail taxation designed to
create a new stream of revenue for AOL.
The certified e-mail system would require advertisers to pay $2 to $3 per
1,000 messages. The plan is optional, though AOL and its tech partner,
Goodmail Systems, cannot guarantee that all non-certified e-mail with Web
links and images will be delivered.
"This is all about protecting consumers from spam, phishing, viruses and
fraud," says Richard Gingras, CEO of Goodmail.
If successful, the plan could entice other Internet service providers to
follow. Yahoo plans to test Goodmail's system to certify e-mail for
transactions such as financial statements and shipping confirmations.
Certified e-mail has become a hot topic in e-mail circles because many
ISPs . out of security concerns . block messages with images and Web
links. The AOL system would ensure such messages pass its stringent e-mail
defenses and reach its 25.5 million subscribers worldwide. Gingras
compares the system to certified postal mail.
"This will be painful for marketers in the beginning, but it is a positive
step in forcing them to be more selective in who they e-mail," says
Jupiter Research's David Daniels. "Many now just blast e-mail rather than
target an audience."
Anyone can apply for the program. Goodmail determines if applicants are
legitimate companies with pristine e-mail standards. AOL has final
approval. E-mail of approved companies will come with digital tokens
recognized by AOL security defenses. AOL subscribers will still be able to
block mail from certified senders by adjusting anti-spam tools on their
accounts, AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham says.
AOL says The New York Times and American Red Cross have signed up for the
service. Spending on e-mail marketing is expected to jump 24%, to $1.1
billion, by 2010 from $885 million in 2005, Jupiter Research estimates.
Still, the revamped commercial e-mail system could have unintended
consequences for some marketers and consumers.
"It's taxation of the good guys with cash, and it does nothing to help the
good guys who can't afford the cost or to deter the bad guys who spam
anyway," says Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path, an e-mail services
company. "Baloney," says AOL's Graham, scoffing at suggestions the e-mail
system amounts to taxation. "That's competitive chatter and sour grapes."
Consumers, meanwhile, may discover that some commercial e-mail they
previously received, and wanted, no longer arrives if advertisers opt not
to pay AOL, some e-mail marketers warn. E-mail users would need to
retrieve them from a spam folder.
"This takes a system that works and shoves a stick in the flywheel of
communication," says Jordan Ayan, CEO of SubscriberMail, an e-mail service
provider for high-tech, media and sports companies.