"CertifiedEmail will cost a fraction of a cent to send, which will be generously offset by an order of magnitude ROI in the form of assured delivery, improved open rates, and enhanced click-through rates," Richard Gingras, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Goodmail Systems, told ClickZ News.
Until that ROI is proven, however, it is likely that the service will be used more for transactional messages -- like billing statements or transaction receipts -- than for marketing messages. The company has not yet set a price point, but will base it on the number of messages sent. For certain transactional message senders, the value is clear, according to Gingras.
"Ninety-five percent of e-mail users fear identity theft, and nearly 30 percent categorically refuse to open messages from financial institutions," he said. "Goodmail CertifiedEmail will be distinctly labeled both in the inbox list view and when the message is opened so the user can quickly recognize that the message is certified and thus authentic and safe to open."
AOL gets a lot of spam because it's AOL. It's an enormous domain with millions of email addresses, so naturally spammers are going to send all kinds of crap to it. There are lots of ways for spammers to get AOL addresses, from monitoring their chat rooms to trying random letter combinations and so on, and they work fairly well. So AOL blocks a huge amount of stuff that's obviously crap (based on the IP address it's coming from, message characteristics, how often that server is sending them mail, and so on).
The filtering rules change all the time, and they're not perfect; some things that you want to get never make it to you because they look too much like spam. And of course other things get through. What I find interesting about the Goodmail deal is that AOL is basically outsourcing something they do already: monitoring the kinds of email they get and figuring out what's spam and what's not.
Their idea, I suspect, is that since legitimate marketing email - stuff that you ask to get, like emails from Amazon and newsletters from places you shop and all that - is making money for the people sending it, there's no reason for AOL to spend money sorting it all out. You want to send stuff that looks like spam, but isn't? Pay Goodmail, and we'll accept that it's legit. Don't pay, and take your chances with everybody else.
Instead of AOL having to deal with companies complaining that their valid email is getting blocked, Goodmail picks up some of that task - and AOL winds up getting paid for it. It's a smart move for them.
I'll say this: I don't think we're going to make headway on the spam problem with current technology and paradigms. Technology Review magazine's recent cover story was entitled The Internet Is Broken, and while I'm not sure I'd go that far (nor that I'd necessarily endorse their proposed solutions), I think it's clear that a new mechanism for email delivery has to be adopted. Some form of sender verification, which is essentially what Goodmail is, is certainly one way to do that. Is it the best way? I don't know, but let's try it and see if someone else can come up with something better. I don't see that we have much choice.Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 07, 2006 to Technology, science, and math | TrackBack