NetCreations Dabbles in Single-Opt-In

New York-based NetCreations is shifting its strategy to begin handling single opt-in lists, after years of promoting its insistence on double-opt-in lists.

On Monday, the company confirmed that a handful of clients have asked it to take on the management of several single-opt-in lists. According to salespeople at NetCreations, those clients — including several in the IT space, such as ZDNet, Techies.com, iEntry and TechTarget.com — approached the firm about also renting out their additional lists.

“There’s a need for B2B names, and it’s kind of hard to get them,” said one of those salespeople. “Clients [who] were already double-opt-in … were asking for single-opt-in, so it was kind of an kind of an easy step for us to do.”

Though NetCreations president and chief operating officer Michael Mayor said the firm’s new lists represent only about 1 percent of the total 450 email lists under management, adding that all but one of its single-opt-in clients were former clients, such a move still represents a sea change in the way NetCreations does business.

Since its inception in 1996, the company and its PostMasterDirect list-rental site had focused exclusively on double-opt-in lists, arguing that they offered higher-quality impressions and brought in higher CPMs from advertisers. Indeed, the NetCreations brand in many minds is synonymous with the management of high-quality lists, thanks in large part to the company’s long history of advocating double-opt-in as standard practice for effective online marketing.

On its Web site, the company touts the fact that its double-opt-in lists make PostMasterDirect.com “the Internet’s only 100 percent opt-in email marketing network.”

“PostMasterDirect.com’s double-opt-in process ensures that every individual on our lists is aware that he is going to be receiving commercial email from third parties,” the company writes. “Because of the high quality of our lists and service, marketers that have used PostMasterDirect.com have generated response rates as high as 5 to 15 percent and sales as great as $50,000 in a single day.”

But Mayor said the new foray into single-opt-in didn’t necessarily undermine the company’s original position.

“We are still firm believers in [double-opt-in] … we feel it is the ‘high bar’ of opt-in lists which are created for the sole purposes of third-party rental,” he said. “Also, we have always felt that a [single-opt-in] approach for a marketer’s own housefile is perfectly acceptable. (Our beef is with third party compilers who use a [single-opt-in] approach).”

He said that rather than being based purely on market conditions, the firm had begun managing single-opt-in lists chiefly as an added resource for publishers, to better manage all of their lists.

“We first helped them build and manage their double opt-in file,” Mayor said. “Then we began to receive many requests from mailers who also wanted to rent their [single-opt-in] housefile as well. Instead of going through two different channels and ordering processes, they now can go through one. This facilitates the merge/purge process as well and ensures the mailer doesn’t pay twice for the same name.”

“Will [single-opt-in] be bigger?” he said. “Time will tell, but [single-opt-in] will have to turn faster, as it is priced much lower.”

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