The technology has improved, but the average email user can't help but feel overwhelmed by the mass of emails landing on their laps every minute of the day. Sure, junk and spam are being identified more readily and filed away -- annoyingly, occasionally with an email from a good friend -- but is there an argument that placing a monetary value on email would save many of the channel's issues?
The most obvious plus point would be that email would no longer be free to send. Of course, in reality it never has been, when you consider the wages of email marketing staff and software fees. However, if you were to charge the equivalent of a stamp, would you then see brands sending out fewer emails? Quite possibly. Like anything, if you have to pay for it, it's more likely that you won't send out an email for the sake of it just because the time of the week arrives when you normally bang out an offer.
It could also show act as a mark of serious and honourable intent for ISPs to recognise that you are not a fly-by-night operator or spammer but have paid a fee to earn the right to be identified as a bona fide email marketing operation.
It all sounds good, doesn't it? But I rather expect we have more chance in Europe of new data-handling regulations lowering the inbox deluge. The main reason is that email marketers are unlikely to volunteer money when email is already free, and that same view applies to consumers who expect email for free.
So that leaves us with regulations that are designed to curtail email mission creep. You know the kind of thing. You tell a brand it's OK to tell you about gigs at a certain venue and the next thing you know multiple venues are emailing you alongside partner hotels and restaurants offering pre-show dinners. This kind of mission creep will be harder to justify under GDPR. Its central remit is the receiver has control over what they receive and has to opt in for each type of communication. Hence, you may sign up for notifications of musicals at Drury Lane without being expected to endure countless offers for comedy nights in Ipswich.
OK -- it's not going to make a massive difference and the spammers are always going to spam on regardless, because locks tend to only keep out honest people. However, inbox tech is pretty good at sifting out junk.
The new problem isn't so much junk as clutter, and that's where GDPR should help. It won't be a massive difference -- but it should certainly be noticeable in May 2018 when the fines backing up the new rules come into effect.