Thursday, January 20, 2005

Spam: It ain't chopped liver

Nearly 44% of respondents have curtailed their use of the Internet because of spam, spyware and similar toxic schlock, according to a survey by Osterman Research, a consulting firm that helps marketers worry about such things.

These findings are not good for anyone doing business on the Net. Not even the lucky companies selling filters, blockers, detectors and other gizmos promising to thwart spam, viruses, spyware, adware, worms, Trojan horses and other miscellaneous malware.

If people are sufficiently overwhelmed with unproductive enhancements to their productivity enhancers, they will go back to reading newspapers, sticking stamps on Hallmark cards and shopping in malls, where, heaven help us, they might have to pay retail.

If you think there ought to be a law against cyber-borne junk, then you would be glad to know that the feds have thoughtfully supplied us with one. It is called the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM).

When the initiative went into effect on Jan. 1, 2004, it was too much to hope that it would cleanse our "in" boxes of pitches for ink cartridges and bimbos. That's because the act merely required spammers to (a) identify themselves and (b) allow recipients a way of opting out of future missives.

You will be shocked to learn that CAN-SPAM has been spectacularly ineffective. Ten out of every 13 emails in 2004 were spam, according to MX Logic, a spam-trapping company that "processes billions of messages each month for over 3,000 organizations worldwide." Based on a survey of 10,000 randomly selected unsolicited emails each week, MX Logic says 97% of the spam last year did not comply with the aforementioned (a) and (b) requirements of CAN-SPAM. Shame on you, naughty spammers.

Apart from its prodigious lack of decorum, spam costs businesses between $90 and $2,000 per employee per year, according to a quick survey of available guesstimates. If you run a business and want to gauge the costs to your organization, several spam-fighting companies have handy cost-o-spam calculators on their web sites. Just Google "cost of spam."

Although everyone knows the spam problem is huge , the chore of quantifying it has daunted even such industry leaders as Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft. Anti-spamites gasped last year when Ballmer said Bill Gates, the man who needs no further introduction, gets a staggering 4 million pieces of spam a day. Turns out that Steve was off by a factor of about 364. In reality, Bill gets only 4 million spams a year.

Still, that ain't chopped liver.


Post a Comment

<< Home