AOL's Enhanced Whitelist - Clearing The Air
By Christopher Knight
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I asked Charles E. Stiles, Postmaster/Sr. Tech. Mgr. of AOL to clear the air on the recent market activity and mis-information regarding the AOL/Goodmail deal. Mr. Stiles was kind enough to respond to me and re-iterated a post he made on Feld.com:
Charles E. Stiles, Postmaster/Sr. Tech. Mgr. of AOL said:
"I, too, have been on the front lines of AOL's spam fighting operations for
three years, and I know I speak for the company when I say the last thing
AOL would do is endorse a "paid spam" program. Given the overall lack of
reliable information and the propaganda being slung around on this issue, I
want to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
First, AOL will continue to offer IP-based white list and enhanced white
list privileges to mailers that do not wish to take advantage of the
CertifiedEmail program. As long as there is market demand and operational
need for these services, AOL will continue to operate them.
Second, providing the opportunity to present qualified email with enhanced
functionality is a step forward for the industry, not a step backward -- as
some Goodmail competitors suggest. This was the original intent of the
enhanced white list, and we are further delivering on this promise with our
Goodmail initiative. The CertifiedEmail program was developed for highly
qualified mailers sending permission-based messages to existing customers -
this is an optional premium service we are offering above and beyond our
existing whitelist services. And, we're confident the market will understand
the value of this program when they take the time to evaluate it -
especially when mailers will benefit from much needed consistency and
uniformity, as well as better reporting tools. To encourage this, Goodmail
is even providing free and/or reduced tokens to early adopters in the first
year; this is an integral part of the charter program intended to ease the
Third, spammers are not allowed into the program and legitimate marketers
that abuse the system will be expunged. And, even with the addition of
CertifiedEmail, AOL retains the right to block or "pull the plug" on any
companies that exhibit bad behavior, just as we do now. Accredited senders
will be held to the same standards as anyone else sending email to AOL email
Fourth, the idea that a company like eBay would have to pay millions to send
email to AOL email boxes is simply wrong. eBay does not need to pay to get
those emails delivered under our current nor "new AOL email model". In fact
referring to it as a new model is misleading, because we are merely offering
an enhancement above and beyond what exists today. There is not a change in
how email is accepted or rejected, it still comes back to reputation.
It is true that the AOL user experience will change -- but for the better.
Legitimate, certified mailers that pass authentication tests will have their
message displayed with images and links enabled and a visual notification
that it is "AOL Certified."
AOL has spent several years and millions of dollars fighting spam - through
technology, industry-coordinated efforts, in courts, and in state and
federal legislatures - and it has paid off, with spam reaching member email
boxes down 75%. The idea that we would now turn our backs on this hard-won
progress is ludicrous. Our antispam operation will continue to provide the
best possible online user experience. And given my position at AOL, that
will never stop.
Frankly, a vast majority of the propaganda and negativity about our recent
addition of CertifiedEmail is inaccurate and or misleading; it comes from
the marketplace and specifically those in direct competition with Goodmail.
Competition is fierce and in this evolving marketplace I suspect there will
be more mudslinging before stability is reached. We are listening and
attempting to distill legitimate concerns from the chatter but have come to
learn that it's best to consider the source."
It's great to see Charles and his team are plugged into the issues. I don't envy his position as it's nearly impossible to please every stakeholder that his job is designed to protect.
In the meantime, we'll be watching as their CertifiedEmail program evolves.
This Ezine-Tip was submitted By Christopher Knight -- Email List Marketing Expert, author and entrepreneur.
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Ezine-Tips for February 16, 2006
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