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BizReport : Email Marketing : November 22, 2006

What Price an Email Address?

A new email forwarding service will enable users to charge a fee for access to their inboxes.

by Helen Leggatt was launched this month after a period of beta testing. The service allows users to charge a fee to receive advertising emails.

The catch? Users are required to share personal information such as income, location, gender and interests. The more personal data supplied, the higher the fee the user can command. Recipients can charge from $0.03 to $99, or more.

"The main advantage of this approach is that it tries to take into account that different people value commercial e-mail differently," says Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, professor of information, computer science, economics, and public policy at the University of Michigan.

The system puts the user in the driving seat by allowing them to pre-approve those emails that don’t have to pay, for example friends and family. New or unknown senders will either have to complete a CAPTCHA or pay to get their message in to your inbox.

Outwardly, it appears to be a win-win situation for both parties, with companies able to improve response and conversion rates, and recipients making money by allowing relevant advertising emails to get through. But how do senders distinguish between those that are genuinely interested in the goods, or those that are out to make a quick buck? What is to stop users creating multiple accounts? estimate earnings, per email address, of between $75 and $250 per year, depending on salary (on the premise that the higher your salary the higher your access charge). That’s a cool $75,000 per year with 1,000 Yahoo accounts, with making their cut by charging advertisers approximately 30% on top of the user’s access fee.

Tags: email filtering, spam

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