Habeas Unveils Reputation Service

E-mail accreditation provider Habeas is adding to its deliverability tools with a new email reputation database, dubbed SenderIndex.

SenderIndex will take advantage of the data and relationships with ISPs Habeas has developed through its SafeList program. The SafeList is a whitelist used by more than 130,000 ISPs and message filtering companies to aid in filtering email based on Habeas’ certification of the senders meeting its criteria for good sending practices. Those same ISPs provide data back to Habeas to help it maintain the SafeList, and now the SenderIndex.

Accreditation and reputation services are used by ISPs to quickly assess the sending practices of commercial emailers. Each ISP will give the score different weight in its spam filtering process, but in general a good score from Habeas, Return Path, or another provider will improve the odds of a message reaching the end user’s inbox.

Accreditation is generally focused more on a sender’s best practices, infrastructure and stated policies, while reputation is based on actual sending practices monitored over time, such as unsubscribe compliance, complaint and bounce rates, and adherence to those policies. Both of these scores are dependent on the sender first complying with authentication requirements, such as Sender ID or Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM), to ensure that the scores are being attached to the right sender.

SenderIndex uses data shared by the ISPs in its Receiver Network that use SafeList to monitor a sender’s reputation. It assigns senders to one of three lists, which Habeas provides to ISPs or filtering providers to use in their filtering processes. Senders on Habeas’ SafeList are given top ranking, and ISPs are advised to deliver those messages directly to the inbox. Senders who are not Habeas customers, but still pass its tests are put on the Accept List, and receivers are advised to deliver those messages, but filter them first.

Senders who fail the tests miserably are put on a Block List, and receivers are advised to block those messages with confidence that the false positive rate will be very low. The rest of the senders fall into the Grey List, and receivers are advised to use other means to filter or block those messages.

Last month, Return Path rebranded its Bonded Sender accreditation product as Sender Score Certified, retooling it to encompass more data sources to base a sender’s credibility on. At the same time, it launched Sender Score Reputation Monitor, which assigns a numeric score to senders based on their behavior. ISPs and filtering providers can take that reputation score and use it to affect delivery or filtering decisions for that sender’s messages.

When accreditation is taken into account, deliverability improves, according to Cahill. In January, Habeas compared deliverability rates for customers on its SafeList and those who were working to become certified. Those on the SafeList had a 92-percent deliverability rate to the inbox, while those not on the list had a more industry-standard 72-percent rate, he said.

“A year ago, selling this was a much more evangelical proposition. By the end of 2005, there was more awareness, and now there’s broad awareness, and awareness of the Habeas brand,” Cahill said.

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