Start Buying Stamps to Send Commercial Mail to Yahoo and AOL users

On Saturday, the NY Times reported:

America Online and Yahoo, two of the world’s largest providers of e-mail accounts, are about to start using a system that gives preferential treatment to messages from companies that pay from 1/4 of a cent to a penny each to have them delivered. The senders must promise to contact only people who have agreed to receive their messages, or risk being blocked entirely.

The Internet companies say that this will help them identify legitimate mail and cut down on junk e-mail, identity-theft scams and other scourges that plague users of their services. They also stand to earn millions of dollars a year from the system if it is widely adopted.

You can read the details of the story here. While the two portals say this is to help them deal with the overwhelming problem of spam, it seems to me it’s a tax for those of us that stay white listed. The good guys are paying for spammer behaving badly once again.

I also bet this will change the economics of retention email for retailers since to send out one million emails to people with AOL or Yahoo email addresses will cost $2500. While I still think this will be the most cost effective channel for retailers, this move will clearly add costs.

The story also points out this move changes the economics of email on the Internet:

In a broader sense, the move to create what is essentially a preferred class of e-mail is a major change in the economics of the Internet. Until now, senders and recipients of e-mail – and, for that matter, Web pages and other information – each covered their own costs of using the network, with no money changing hands. That model is different from, say, the telephone system, in which the company whose customer places a call pays a fee to the company whose customer receives it.

This just makes you wonder how the status quo might change.

As a final note, as consumer I’m actually rather upset. I want emails that I’ve opted into receive. Being true to my gender, I wait for those JCrew final sale emails. Since one needs to be fast to get the best deals from these emails, if JCrew decides not to pay Yahoo (my personal email provider that I pay for premium service), I might miss the sale. Now I wonder if I should send those emails to my gmail account. Wonder how Yahoo feels about losing those ad dollars from the banners served in the mail interface?

About Beth Kirsch

You can find Beth on Twitter @bethkirsch

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4 Responses to Start Buying Stamps to Send Commercial Mail to Yahoo and AOL users

  1. Sounds fine to me on both sides of the coin.

    I'd love to get less junk in my inbox. All of the spam I currently get has led to having over zealous spam filters and missing e-mail I want due to false positives.

    And I wouldn't mind spending money to reach people. Since lots of people will stop mailing due to this toll, I'd imagine the decrease in clutter would result in an increase in my open rates.

  2. This is either a prime example of corporate America’s greed by lying to the American public or an example of how ignorant corporate America is by not thinking this through and adopting a program that already exists. The program that they have adopted is an attempt to help both of these companies increase their profit at anybody else’s expense. The expense being either economic (the company sending the email) or decreased utility (the person who wants to receive valid email). If these companies really wanted to stop spam and provide maximum utility for their customers they would adopt a bonded sender type of program. This type of program forces the mailer to post a bond in order to get their email delivered and exists. If somebody complains that it is junk mail it goes against their bond. That provides economic disincentive to send junk mail and positive utility to the customer. My guess is that since they have to pay somebody else for this service, they want to go with their own solution.

  3. Brook Schaaf says:

    People have floated this idea for a while. I suppose it makes sense that the spammer business model will be destroyed because they earn less than the fee per email. I suppose it could also create a high-caliber spam list, but I’d rather suffer that than loads of viagra, mortgage, Nigerian-wire-scam, and paypal-phising emails.

    Go ahead and charge, I say. I think it’s worth a penny to reach me. ;)

  4. Mike Hyland says:

    Not only do I support this poorly copied stop-gap measure to force worldwide spammers out of business… I plan to profit by it. ReveNews folks surely can remember my challenge to the e-mail marketers, over my copywrited “Digi-eStamp” proposal in various forums, never could be refuted as the cure-all to spam & spammers. Seems like Yahoo, AOL, and the folks at Goodmail and competitors, need to do some research on original concept. Seems I was years ahead of them with the absolute acceptable plan for both the senders and receivers of e-mail. The Digi eStamp solution, I proposed years ago, sure has a lot more going for all concerned then some Adwhore rehash by the AOL and Yahoo greed mongers.

    Keep it up and both me and Charlie will love the outcome as the backlash by all will drive the internet connected world, All ISP’s and marketers right into adopting my Digi-eStamp solution without modifications or greed driven compromises. Too bad this solution wasn’t listened too and openly discussed years ago as the experts here poo-pooed ever giving up their so-called rights to bomb blast e-mail boxes with junk mail for FREE.

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