Feb 17 2007

Why is it that people send spam still?

When the internet was essentially young and people were excited about receiving these new electronic mail messages someone out there recognized a brand new arena to spread the word about their product or service. You could reach a thousand people in a couple of seconds for next to nothing in cost. This was going to revolutionize the junk mail industry. Why pay people to pound the pavement doing mail drops when with a touch of the enter key you could cover hundreds of households more quickly than any kid on his bike could!

Marketing managers must have been salivating at the potential. That was of course until internet users adopted the term Spam from Monty Python and declared in unison that unwelcome emails were exactly that. Unwelcome.

Spam marketing emails are considered one of the biggest annoyances about the internet age and can really tarnish a businesses reputation if they actively pursue it. In a lot of countries it is now illegal and can damage more than just your reputation. The surge in spam has also resulted in a new industry of spam filters being produced that stop the unwanted emails before they even reach your inbox. I shudder to think how many of them get stopped at the gate that I don’t even see.

So with all the spam stopping software and the ill will it creates with the recipients why is it that people continue to spam?

The majority of spam that I do receive now days is barely above gibberish. There is rarely a sales pitch involved and often the keywords are misspelt to avoid automatic deletion. On the very rare odd occasion that I’ve decided to investigate who it was sending me this rubbish I’ve clicked on the link only to discover that the sender had already been reported and shut down.

So now you have an unwelcome email that barely makes sense, angers the person who receives it, is often caught before it reaches a real person and doesn’t generally actually link to a product. Surely it isn’t worth it?

An annoying advertising campaign can often result in the product or company being forever etched into the subconscious. In Australia several years ago a jewelery chain ran a campaign that amounted to the spokesperson repeating the words gold gold silver silver chain chain sale sale over and over during the advertisement. Now if you try chanting that over and over and it quickly gets stuck in your mind. Anyone from Australia who saw that ad can tell you which company it was and no I’m not giving them a free plug because they ran an annoying ad several years ago thank you very much.

So is it that the spammers think that by repeating the words viagra over and over again that we will become more brand aware of the drug? Granted I’ve mentioned it here but surely the hoopla that resulted when it first was released embedded viagra into the group consciousness forever! It is said that any publicity is good publicity but surely being associated with such a hated medium is not a good thing in the long run?

Obviously there is the more malicious spam that tries to trick you into giving your bank account or paypal details over to them. It is obvious what their intent is but I have to wonder what the arrest rate is on these scams and how many people still fall into the trap.

When you do send spam I would have to imagine that it does more damage than good to your public image. Recently I was infected with an online casino adware (software that forces your browser to open advertisements). Certainly they don’t think that I’m going to give my credit card details over to an organization that used nefarious ways to make me aware that they exist?

Perhaps I’m over estimating the general intelligence of your average internet user. Yup that’s me on a train after a flight.

Lee is a freelance New Media Consultant who also writes for Quit Your Day Job, Crypt Hunter, Pop Culture Heroines (chief editor), ComicsPedia, Dr Fong’s House of Mysteries and Blog About Your Blog. He’s a huge popular culture freak, loves comic books, science fiction, soundtracks.

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12 Comments on this post


  1. Two Easy Ways to Reduce Spam on Your Blog wrote:

    [...] I never really thought about this until recently. Ironically one of our most spammed blog posts is Why Is It That People Send Spam Still? [...]

    August 11th, 2007 at 8:31 pm
  1. Ed said:

    I guess it is the numbers game. Even a tiny fraction percent response could be worth a lot of money.

    btw I think I found out why comments wont work with my normal browser – there seems to be a conflict with Cocomments and Safari. I guess that is of interest to about 3 people in the world, but oh well!

    February 19th, 2007 at 7:56 am
  2. Chris said:

    I must admit, I don’t understand the point of the ones that are just random letters?

    But as for the others, it’s down to millions of morons actually believing them and generating millions of dollars for the spammers….

    February 19th, 2007 at 8:08 am
  3. Tyler said:

    One of my tasks at work is to go through out spam filter. I go though, on average, about 4000 pieces of mail through-out my day and I would say 5% might be legitimate.

    We pulled stats from our mail server and it was about 92-94% of all incoming mail was spam!

    Crazy eh? Imagine what the internet would be like if there wasn’t millions upon millions of spam messages being sent around the world?

    February 20th, 2007 at 6:48 pm
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  11. name changed said:

    People just don’t like to write comments, they like to read posts therefore there is no need to fake posts. Take ProBlogger for an example sometimes he is left with 20 comments a day sometimes he is left with 200 comments a day even tho he is getting 25K-30K visitors

    July 7th, 2007 at 2:23 am
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