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AOL and Yahoo introduce postage for emails.

     
8:41 pm on Feb 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

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America Online and Yahoo, two of the world's largest providers of e-mail accounts, are about to start using a controversial 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.

[nytimes.com...]

7:53 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Here's a story from the WayBack Machine...

I used AOL once on a Commode-door 64 back when they were called Quantum-Link.

They had QHelpers all over the place and one bored night about 6 of us signed up as QNerds to mock them and we all logged in at once.

Needless to say it went over like a fart in church.

They came chasing after us as we hopped from room to room and finally banned us.

No great loss, but it was hysterical.

7:58 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It's a practical partial solution to biggest headache for most webusers.

One side effect of this will be that the AOL/Yahoo spam-filter will be tweaked pretty high. This way companies will be more likely to pay, but also it will reduce number of non-paid spam mails.

Slippery slope though for those of us who like effectively unlimited bandwidth. I don't want to start paying per MB downloaded to my cable company.

8:01 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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>> If you're thinking this will be a way to sneak in adult sites and pharms, it's not going to happen.

Of course much will depend on how effective the vetting process is for someone to get into the program. But as long as it's used for clear pre-existing relationships (emails from a bank to online banking customers, from retailers regarding order status, etc.) I don't see that there's necessarily a problem with it. One possible risk, though, is that by eliminating these large mailers as a source of complaints about too-aggressive spam filtering, they can increase the level of that aggressiveness -- making it more difficult for legitimate mailers who aren't part of the system to get through.

And of course some people will expect that they'll do that intentionally. :)

8:43 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The slippery slope here is that, like all other service delivery entities, they will soon find a way to get the monthly bill for an average at-home consumer up in to the $30 to $50 range. This is just the ice-breaker.

A better solution would be to put convicted spammers on the rack for a few days in public display. Then take away all of their property and money, tattoo "SPAMMER" on their foreheads, and put them out to sea in a row boat.

9:11 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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"The last time I checked, the postal service has a very similar system to provide different options," said Nicholas Graham, an AOL spokesman

Are they actually trying to go with this angle? You have got to be kidding me.

Well, I guess we finally know why Gmail was created, huh? ;-)

9:22 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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PPC for email ... not the killer app IMO.

But if you're looking for a way into email, there could be no better way to get marketshare than offering free (ad supported) email when the big guys start pushing paid email.

9:43 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Another step to make the internet a less valuable resource and a more commercial environment.

If you're running a non-profit or low-profit ezine this is going to hit you hard.

9:51 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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either one can get rid of spam in the first place very well...If you use their email service you will now get even more spam. Both paid for and all current spam.
9:54 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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And the poor suckers who have had their machines turned into zombie spamming machines hit by a large bill.

Anyway, for such a system to work in the first place, first you have to identify the owner of the machine sending the mail. By the time you have altered the SMTP protocal to an authenticated one, it will nearly eliminate the SPAM problem anyway as at that point you can actually block by sender.

10:40 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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AOL advertise on TV in the UK saying they have great spam filters.

But now they are saying some spam is beter than other spam. As long as AOL are in on the deal.

11:09 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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But if you're looking for a way into email, there could be no better way to get marketshare than offering free (ad supported) email when the big guys start pushing paid email.

The slippery slope here is that, like all other service delivery entities, they will soon find a way to get the monthly bill for an average at-home consumer up in to the $30 to $50 range.

You know, I don't necessarily think that this proposal is a good idea, but unfortunately everywhere it comes up the discussion veers into protests about charging end users ("at-home consumers") for "paid email."

So I'm just curious... when people protest this plan in these terms, which don't in reality apply to it, is it because of a misunderstanding of what's being proposed, or is it fear mongering?

If you use their email service you will now get even more spam. Both paid for and all current spam.

The use for this should be for email that is not spam. I mentioned a couple of examples earlier: email from a bank with which you do online banking with email notification, and shipping notifications from retailers you're doing business with. My electric bill comes via email.

There are plenty of categories of email that come from corporations large enough that they can justify spending a couple of cents for each of them, and which the end users legitimately do want to recieve simply and easily. If that's the way this program is used, a lot of users of those email providers will certainly see it as a good thing.

11:13 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The big boys come in and sound the death knell of free communications over the net.

Google, Yahoo + MSN are already killing the internet thru advertising etc. and looking for the next £billion, now they've decided to do the same to email. I'm not surprised at Aol's involvement, either.

Ask Jeeves used to my fav engine - but have you seen how many ads on that recently?

Where are we going to be in 5 years time?

We're too busy griping about microsoft when these guys are up to the same thing - world domination, and that's never been good.

And if Yahoo + AOL think they can send me unsolicited emails I will just ban them - thier search engines are crap anyway!

Rant over - it's been a long day....

11:16 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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There are plenty of categories of email that come from corporations large enough that they can justify spending a couple of cents for each of them, and which the end users legitimately do want to recieve simply and easily. If that's the way this program is used, a lot of users of those email providers will certainly see it as a good thing.

Those corporations that you refer to will not be likely to abosrb the cost of emailing their customers. Nope, they will pass the cost along.

AOL customers are already paying for email service as part of their subscription fee. If corporations are charged to send emails, the end user will pay for that through higher billing rates.

This proposal both monetizes and legitimizes spam and does little to protect the interests of the end consumer. It is non-starter in my mind.

WBF

11:49 pm on Feb 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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>>this does not keep them from flooding my letterbox with advertising.

As a long-time direct marketer, I can assure you that those people filling your snail mail box with catalogs and letters have taken great pains to identify you as a likely target for their offers. The cost to get a catalog in your mailbox is probably pushing $1, which means that the mailer MUST target his mailing lists at those with a demonstrated interest in their category.

12:04 am on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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No different to any smart drug dealer.Give the kids free samples to get them hooked,,,,then start to charge them!Soon as one dealer gets it moving all the other dealers follow suit.:)

MM

12:37 am on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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...which means that the mailer MUST target his mailing lists at those with a demonstrated interest in their category.

I would qualify that as the "... the SMART mailer must..."

After buying *1* item from a catalog (that I wasn't even subscribed to), I suddenly found myself receiving a dozen (yup, count 'em!) similar catalogs from other companies.

This was a 1-time buy of a present for my mother and I specifically opted out from being put on their mailing list. And I certainly wasn't a good customer as I sent several complaint messages about their delayed shipping.

12:44 am on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It's going to hurt or kill a lot of "real" non-spammy, double opted in newsletter publishers. $0.01 per email is $10 CPM, which means they have to consistently get more than that per email mailout (every week, month or whatever schedule they publish at) on average just to be able to afford to keep mailing people.

Even some commercial newsletters may not be able to sustain that rate week in, week out. After all, right now their costs are probably closer to $1-2 CPM in mail-out fees so it's much easier to break even.

One corollary: watch for newsletter ad prices to skyrocket. If you have access to a premium audience (a targeted newsletter subscriber base) and you're having to fork over $12 CPM to reach them, the ad price will have to be >>$12 CPM to make it worthwhile.

1:17 am on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Does this email email nofications for threads on forums are dead?

How about sites like hi5 and myspace... Refer a friend emails etc?

2:25 am on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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rogerd: As a long-time direct marketer, I can assure you that those people filling your snail mail box with catalogs and letters have taken great pains to identify you as a likely target for their offers. The cost to get a catalog in your mailbox is probably pushing $1, which means that the mailer MUST target his mailing lists at those with a demonstrated interest in their category.

Great, this is very good, I have a VERY large trash can next to my mailbox, with some 30 mailboxes in the same area. Your wonderfully targeted bag of junk catalogs goes right in the trash - and that is done by 5 or 10 of my neighbors as well.

What we need is "DO NOT MAIL JUNK" list, and a "DO NOT EMAIL JUNK" list, just like we have "DO NOT CALL LIST". Any company that goes through great pains to identify me as a likely target should at least do me a liberty to consult that list and see that I don't want their spam. That will save the company precious $1, and me - precious 10 seconds it takes me to identify spam (and click delete button).

3:43 am on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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In my experience, AOL survives because of a lot of middle aged and older technophobes who signed on when AOL was the only thing around and are just too stuck in their ways to try anything else.

Or they've been using AOL e-mail addresses for their businesses since the 1990s, and it's too much hassle to change.

3:49 am on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Does this email email nofications for threads on forums are dead?

If this system becomes widely adopted, you can still send and receive for free... paying a fee just means that you're the certified sender and get better treatment (like avoiding the spam filters).

I think this is a great idea. I'd gladly pay 1 cent per email to send emails to my mailing list if it means I can guarantee delivery.

Spammers send millions of emails out, and can't afford to do this because of their low response rates.

I'm all for it.

6:47 am on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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My opinion

Regular SPAM is a MASSIVE problem that everyone needs to find a way to deal with ASAP. These *&^ are really getting me *&^%$, If I ever meet one..... Mmmmmm.....

Please US Gov't or someone help us it is such a big pain &$ ^%$ ^*&

Really!

9:10 am on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I can't believe Yahoo would sign on to this idea. It is definitely an idea that AOL would go for though. AOL's backwards thinking squandered the pole position they had in the 90s even if they gained it by signing up technophobes and neophytes with marketing gravity. I say let them do it. I'll watch from the sidelines as the market punishes them for implementing such a penny pinching idea. I think if they go for it, they'll end up dropping it relatively quickly though. Otherwise it won't help Yahoo and it will just be another nail in the coffin for AOL's protracted demise.
1:33 pm on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I am constantly banning 419 scammers from one of my sites and more than 90% of these use Yahoo email addresses.

If Yahoo goes ahead with this, I will not allow Yahoo email users to sign up anymore.

2:17 pm on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Why cant they just build a spam filter thats more intelligent?
4:50 pm on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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A leading anti-spam agency has struck back at moves to charge companies a fixed fee to ensure e-mails are delivered, saying it will erode freedoms.

On Monday, Richard Cox, chief information officer of anti-spam organization Spamhaus, said that "an e-mail charge will destroy the spirit of the Internet."


Anti-spam group rejects payment plan [news.com.com]

I'm not so sure that to "destroy the spirit of the Internet" is as important these days. I would have thought it is more a question of retaining the sanity of the recipient.

8:06 pm on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Spammers send millions of emails out, and can't afford to do this because of their low response rates.

I have yet to meet a major spammer who can't make at least 2 cents an email.

11:35 pm on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I really don't see how the "postage" will deter spam. If AOL and Yahoo are looking for more revenue than they should just say "we're tired of footing the bill for free email accounts." I don't mind paying for email. I have paid email accounts as well as free.
11:53 pm on Feb 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I have yet to meet a major spammer who can't...

You meet with major spammers, markus007? Perhaps you could kindly introduce us for a little face to face. I'll supply the mediaeval torture instruments and boiling oil.
12:45 am on Feb 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Remember that this proposal, if adopted, would validate a scheme for people who SEND email to bypass the RECIPIENT's spam filters on only 2 ISPs.

Seriously.

As Jeff Foxworthy might say:

If you're worried you may have to pay something to send a message to your mother ... you may be a spammer.

If your college alumni mailing list gets buried in the spam bucket ... you may be a spammer.

If those jokes you love to forward never get read ... you may be a spammer.

Enough mail gets through their filters as it is that they are unlikely to snag many valid messages.

Perhaps you prefer Earthlink's system, where all mail is held until the recipient decides to accept mail from that address?

As long as they don't bypass MY filters, or at least give me a blacklist.

a lot of middle aged and older technophobes who signed on when AOL was the only thing around

Like IncrediBill ... I'm one of the fogies (hardly technophobes!) who used AOL/Quantum-Link, in my case as an alternate to the university connection I had been using. At the time, I signed on for the content AOL was able to provide in their BBS environment. This was before HTTP and the web, of course. Since the mid-90s when commercial activity was allowed on the WWW, AOL has been slipping. They capitulated and started a web implementation, and they've been hurting ever since. Really too bad. They're BBS could have been phenomenal if it wasn't trapped in an inelastic structure. I still have my original account, amazingly, because I occasionally learn from their proprietary approach.

Don't get me started about why Yahoo is looking in every nook and cranny for ways to wring out the money ... regardless of how unethical it may be.

<edit>Actually, it strikes me that they could be signing their own death warrants. Why use their email services at all? I know lots of companies will sprout up that DON'T accept payment to bypass filters, and some of them will rise like cream to the top. Bye bye Yahoo Mail. Bye bye AOL. I mean ... why else would someone 'subscribe'?</edit>

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