Porn Spam on the Rise

Unsolicited email from adult-oriented Web sites has increased 450 percent since June 2001, according to antispam technology firm BrightMail. In fact, BrightMail has found that adult spam now comprises 8 percent of all unsolicited messages — double last year’s 4 percent figure.

Measurement and analysis from BrightMail found that unsolicited email fit into eight different categories:

  • Product-oriented messages that advertised general goods or services accounted for 27 percent of the spam.

  • 20 percent were financial marketing messages.
  • Internet- or computer-related emails were responsible for 13 percent.
  • The aforementioned porn spam — defined as offerings for offensive or inappropriate material for persons over the age of 18 — comprised 8 percent.
  • Scams, such as the infamous “Nigerian Urgent Business Letter,” accounted for 6 percent.
  • The health category accounted for 4 percent of the spam.
  • Spiritually oriented messages (including offerings for psychics and organized religion) weighed in at 4 percent.
  • Leisure-related messages — those advertising prizes, awards, discounted travel, online games, and casinos — were responsible for 3 percent of the total spam received.
  • Miscellaneous messages not pertaining to any of the specified categories made up 15 percent.

BrightMail also found that adult-content spam is becoming more graphic, possibly creating a legal liability to corporations. Current solutions being utilized include mail filters and rules; software and blocking systems from antispam vendors; and, of course, the delete key.

Marketers are working diligently with governmental agencies to preserve email as one of the Internet’s killer apps and establish guidelines for legitimate, and permission-based, email marketing. A recent study from Quris, an email solutions agency, found that marketers using permission email programs face significant challenges in preserving email as a viable customer communications channel. In particular, the increasing volume of spam will make it much harder for marketers to differentiate, gain, and maintain relationships of trust with customers.

Other key findings of the Quris study include:

  • 56 percent of those surveyed indicated that they feel that the quality of permission email relationships is important, positively or negatively, to their overall impressions about companies and their products.

  • The 30 percent of all respondents that demanded the highest level of privacy (according to four privacy questions) are more inclined to think that permission emails sometimes affect their purchase decisions, are more inclined to open permission messages, and are much more likely to value customizable email.

    70 percent of respondents say they are receiving more email this year than last year; spam was cited as a cause by 74 percent of those who said their email volume grew. Permission email was cited by only 28 percent of respondents as a cause of email volume growth. Two-thirds of respondents feel they get “too much” email.

“Keeping customers engaged and growing the relationship over the long term is the highest priority for marketers,” states John Funk, CEO of Quris. “This study demonstrates that email can do that, when it’s done right. But it’s just as clear that the combination of consumers’ high expectations the growing problem of email glut is a high hurdle to overcome.”

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