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AOL and Yahoo! to add Email Charge

Mark Edwards
12-02-2006

In a story reported by ClickZ on January 30th, AOL and Yahoo! will both begin charging email newsletter senders from 0.25 to 1 US cent per email to send their mailing list via Goodmail's cryptographic CertifiedEmail program and will begin phasing out its IP-based Whitelist.



So what does this mean for anyone who sends email newsletters?



It means that to guarantee your marketing messages get through to AOL and Yahoo! users it will cost you between $3 and $13 AUD per 1,000 messages. Multiply this by the number of times you email and the number of thousands on your list and the number starts to get large pretty fast.



Yahoo! and AOL users were already becoming harder to reach due to the number of legitimate email newsletters that are wrongly classified as spam. This new arrangement actually puts money in the pocket of these two huge ISP's if they can make you pay to send your marketing message rather than just improving their spam filtering.



AOL and Yahoo! say that they have been forced to adopt this paid sender approach due to the massive volume of spam, however that does not appear to be the case. Users of Google's free email service report very low levels of spam and false positives due to effective spam filtering. This shows it can be done but it appears that the big players would rather monetise the solution than simply solve it for free.



In practice it makes sense for ISP's to join the bandwagon and have email newsletter senders pay to get their messages through. They get a monetary return for accepting the messages and can be more aggressive with their spam filters thus forcing any legitimate senders onto the program whether they want to or not.



For users, the benefits are mixed. It will mean reduced spam but it will also mean if you sign up for an email newsletter, like ours for instance, you probably won't receive it unless the sender is paying to get their message through.



That probably means, you will receive marketing emails from large corporations who can easily afford the fees, but you are less likely to receive the informative emails from community based sites or information services provided at no cost. In other words, you will receive the advertising emails but not the ones you really look forward to reading.



For an email sender like us, it means we may eventually be forced to pay each week to get the messages you have requested through to your inbox.



It will be interesting to see which other major ISP's join AOL and Yahoo! and how that translates to the Australian market.

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