Saturday, November 15, 2008

The value of spam

PC World has a story about a new study by researchers from UC Berkeley and San Diego on the success rates for spam marketing, with some back of the envelop calculations of revenue.

So how successful are spammers? 28 sales came from 350 MILLION messages. That's an success rate of less than 0.00001%. Given the researchers were only looking at 1.5% of the total messages, that though could mean $3.5 million in revenue per year. Profit margins though seem to be tight given that that revenue is likely shared with suppliers and coding and running such an exercise can be expensive. As the researchers note: "the profit margin for spam (at least for this one pharmacy campaign) may be meager enough that spammers must be sensitive to the details of how their campaigns are run and are economically susceptible to new defenses."

What fascinates me even more about this is how they ran their study. The researchers hacked into the Storm botnet, a very large spam system, and rewrote a random sample of 1.5% of messages to have people go to their own website, where they tracked the traffic but did not actually accept final sales.

This sounds like a great exercise in making a positive social effect. During the 28 days of this study, they decreased spammer revenue by 1.5%. That may not be very large, but if profit margins are low, it may be enough to increase this only slightly to drive them out of business.

1 comment:

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