A heated debate is ensuing at the MediaPost Email Insider Summit on the morality of the e-append list growth strategy, highlighted by sharp condemnation from Jordan Cohen, vp-business development at Pontiflex.
“It's not really OK to do,” he said bluntly.
It may not be illegal in the U.S. -- a conference attendee said it is in Canada -- but Cohen said that the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) has come out against it, relating it to spamming. So, MAAWG serves as the de facto law. Industry guidelines are a type of legal policy, Cohen argued.
“Do you want to break the law?” Cohen asked. Using an artful metaphor, he said e-append practitioners "are bad news, they can either get you in jail or at least get a lot of points on your license that can stick with you for a long time.”
Experian CheetahMail has come out against the e-append strategy. Cohen said Exact Target says clients can't engage in the e-append tactics and Internet service providers will drop clients who do. "Your vendor will walk away from you, they will say we don't want your money because you will destroy our network," the fired-up Cohen said.
Cohen was not the only one to take a stance against e-appending. Bonnie Malone, a director in response consulting at Return Path, said it is not OK. “It’s a non-permission way of acquiring email addresses … it's not morally, ethically the right thing to do,” she said.
But Andrew Kordek, co-founder and chief strategist at Trendline Interactive, said the strategy can be effective if done with care. He dismissed some of the negative comments in the morality realm. “If done correctly, it could actually be pretty profitable,” he said, suggesting there be a focus on how to make the practice better.
Dela Quist, AlchemyWorx CEO, questioned Jordan Cohen's strong stance, suggesting it may be rooted in Pontiflex being in direct competition with the e-append practice.
"That was a little below the belt," Trendline Interactive's Morgan Stewart shot back.
Cohen responded that his company believes consumers are in control and marketers should get to the point where consumers welcome them into their lives. "We belive that permission is relevant across the world," he said.
He added he is not trying to "shame anybody and make them feel icky."