[copperpress-advertserve-ad-reload zone="3"]
ARCHIVED  June 1, 1996

Software opens floodgates for annoying junk e-mail

One of the greatest attributes of the Internet is the ability to pull off information on specific desired topics of interest.

Users don’t have to flip through the pages of a magazine or wrestle through different parts of a newspaper to find the section or story they’re looking

for. But one of the most basic, and possibly most annoying, forms of marketing is working its way through the Internet’s subject-sensitive filters.

Junk mail has found its way onto cyberspace, and the unwanted ads, coupons and brochures that once cluttered standard mailboxes across the country

can now clutter and even overload e-mail addresses throughout the Internet.

For businesses, mass mailings on the Internet are like a dream come true. No photocopying. No envelope stuffing. No postage. Just create the ad or

press release, develop an Internet mailing list, and in virtually no time, thousands and potentially hundreds of thousands of people can be reached.

Prime Data Systems in Bowling Green, Ky., advertises a product called Floodgate to do specifically that. Be prepared: The product doesn’t close

floodgates; it opens them. The Floodgate ad (a piece of junk e-mail itself) promotes a product able to send hundreds of thousands of messages at a

time. No phone number was listed in the ad, and numerous calls to a seemingly anonymous answering service not at the actual headquarters netted no

return calls.

This could easily be because Prime Data is very busy; the company offers a product that any business might want. But company officials are

undoubtedly also aware that not everyone likes to have his or her e-mail accounts flooded with solicitations for business.

Mass mailings and the companies that use them are extremely unpopular on the Internet, said Calvin Cline of Online Marketing Network in Loveland.

In fact, the term used to describe the random mailings is “spamming,” hardly a glamorous term for a high-tech marketing tool.

Spamming is so unpopular that many of the companies that do blanket mailings often try to remain somewhat covert, he said, “because we can hurt

them.”

When a company sends out any form of mass mailing, it expects only a fractional return. To try to deter mass Internet mailings, users often try to

coordinate mass responses, which can shut down the sender’s address at least for a few days, Cline said.

Although there are other defenses against junk e-mail, “none of them are especially graceful,´ said Andrew Neely, systems administrator for Front

Range Internet Inc. in Fort Collins. The best defense is to aggressively fight incoming junk mail by immediately returning the message with a note

requesting to be removed from whatever mailing list you’re on, he said.

Mail packages that can filter junk mail based on a variety of criteria – including the sender’s address, the topic and even the date – are also available.

The programs can often return the unwanted mail with a specific message, Neely said.

“Mail abuse is a growing trend in general. Normally, you just ignore it,” Neely said.

But junk-mail recipients are essentially picking up half of the cost of the mailing, he said. Because both the originator and the recipient of the mail have

to pay for e-mail access, the recipient often is paying for unwanted mail.

Junk mail also consumes drive space, clogs band width on the Internet and wastes time. Cline estimates wasting $300 worth of processing per year on

junk mail, and although it’s not a tremendous amount, it’s more than most people would ever pay for unwanted information and ads.

Despite being considered poor netiquette, spamming has obvious benefits.

“The amount of people you reach rally tips the scales against the 1 percent who complain,´ said Doug Renner of the Fort Collins Community

Computer Network.

Targeting specific news groups with press releases or bulletins about a related product or event is often acceptable if done in an unobtrusive manner,

Cline said. The news groups are interested in the information, making it a perfect match for both the message originator and the recipients. Ignorance

is the only thing preventing more companies from using e-mail to advertise, Cline said. Companies are simply not aware of the potential.

But as more and more people go on-line and spamming becomes more widely used, everyone may become painfully aware of junk e-mail. Just be

glad the Sears catalog was discontinued.

One of the greatest attributes of the Internet is the ability to pull off information on specific desired topics of interest.

Users don’t have to flip through the pages of a magazine or wrestle through different parts of a newspaper to find the section or story they’re looking

for. But one of the most basic, and possibly most annoying, forms of marketing is working its way through the Internet’s subject-sensitive filters.

Junk mail has found its way onto cyberspace, and the unwanted ads, coupons and brochures that once cluttered standard mailboxes across the country

can now clutter and even overload e-mail addresses…

[copperpress-advertserve-ad-reload zone="3"]

Related Content

[copperpress-advertserve-ad-interstitial zone="30"]