Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 25, 2008 7:10 AM

Spam Works - Sad But True

Is the amount of Spam you're getting bringing your online depression to new heights? I'm getting it too. Spam - now new and improved. I've had spam in Twitter, the latest pain has been Spam in Facebook and I'm dealing with this insane amount of fake CNN and MSNBC spam in my email in box (it's so good that - at first - I thought it was real email from the two news outlets).

There's a reason you can't get away from it: It works.

Check out this news item from AppScout: 29 Percent of Internet Users Admit Purchasing from Spam.


That's nearly one-third of the entire online population (and, for the record, this is inching ever-closer to the one billion person mark).

"29 percent of Internet users that admit to purchasing items from spam email, according to a recent survey. Often these goods are pirated, counterfeit, or cheap knock-offs that would be difficult to come by through the legitimate market... More than 150 billion spam messages circulate daily, accounting for more than 85 percent of the total number of emails sent throughout the world. The sheer volume of spam consumes an enormous amount of bandwidth and remains one of the Internet's biggest security problems."

The report was put together by Marshal's Threat Research and Content Engineering (TRACE) team and you can review their news release here: Sex, Drugs and Software Lead Spam Purchase Growth.

And, it's not just fake Rolex watches that we're buying. Get ready for this:

"The most commonly purchased items include sexual enhancement pills, software, adult material and luxury items such as watches, jewellery and clothing."

Common knowledge dictates that the open and response rates for Spam is minimal, but with that much messaging being plugged into the tubes, it's clear that there are still enough financial rewards for the spammers to continue working the channel.

And here's the sad reality:

“A common misconception is that ‘regular’ people don’t buy from spam. But, you have to consider the types of products people are buying. It’s pirated software, knock-off watches, counterfeit designer goods, cheap drugs and prescription medicines, pornography and other adult material. The Internet provides convenience and a degree of anonymity to people who want to buy illegal or restricted goods. It is a black market and spam has become a conventional means of advertising to a willing audience of millions of people who are purchasing from spam.” 

If you follow the numbers, we're talking about 250 million people who are - obviously - interested in this type of messaging. This is the paradox of advertising. The general consumer screams for less and less advertising, but buys into it at such a furious rate that although they say they're not interested, they are sustaining the business model by voting with their dollars. The old adage continues to be true: if you really don't want spam, stop buying from these types of messages. There is another theory that if less and less people responded to Spam, the spammers would kick it up and increase the messaging. I don't believe this to be true. Spammers use this channel because it is cheap and cost effective. They'll move on to something else once the fast buck is no longer ready for the taking.

By Mitch Joel