You wake up to that first cup of coffee, and at some point shortly before or after your shower, you pop your emails. At first glance, there are many, but in a couple of seconds you realize that several are from unwanted sources that have managed to evade your spam filters. After mumbling a few expletives, you start deleting in bulk…but wait!. One catches your attention and you open it. And in that fleeting moment, the burgeoning spam industry notches another victory.
Conceptually, spam (unwanted email) is not too different than legitimate forms of opt-in email marketing: it’s a competition first for your eye balls and then your money. It’s success is measured in standard marketing metrics – rates of delivery, conversion, ROI, etc. The biggest difference, perhaps, lies in who’s footing the bill. In the case of email spam, it’s…well, you and me.
According to Ferris Research, in 2009 worldwide spam costs hit a staggering $130 billion of which $42 billion was in the US alone. This represents a 30% increase from two years prior. Cost components for spam are measured in three major ways:
1) Productivity loss from inspecting and deleting spam that gets missed by spam control products
2) Productivity loss from searching for legitimate email deleted in error by spam control products
3) Operations and helpdesk running costs
The fact is, of all the emails sent daily, 75% are spam messages!
And on the M86 Security Labs’ list of countries with greatest spam origination, India leads the charge. Russia and Viet Nam follow closely behind. The US ranks sixth in order. Of all the industries in the spam world, the pharmaceuticals dominate at a whopping 55% of the total (Viva Viagra!), followed by replicas at 32%. Then it drops to 5% for diplomas, 3% for gambling, and 2% for dating.
The reality is that spammers are winning overall, and their unscrupulous activities aren’t disappearing any time soon. User spam filters are more sophisticated than ever, but so are the spammers! More regulation might alleviate some of the problem but not all of it. As long as spam recipients click and buy, the spam industry will endure. You don’t need a high conversion rate to thrive in a business with no direct costs.
Of all of us who bear the brunt of spam costs, internet service providers pay their fare share in the form of excess server capacity, human resources, backbone capacity and anti-spam software. We, at InfoStructure, have partnered with a network service provider that has developed a powerful Bit Scrubber spam-detection software. We also have devised a rules-based system by which commercial marketers may be “gray listed” for noncompliance of email marketing standards. While we have an “open network” over which customer traffic is never monitored, we do engage these anti-spam protocols to minimize spam among our business and residential customers.