You heard it here first: 2020 is going to be the year of BIMI.
That’s the way it looks after today’s announcement that DigiCert has issued the first Verified Mark Certificate (VMC) for a domain that sends email at scale: CNN.com.
The news is important in two ways.
First, it signals that CNN is involved with BIMI (Brand indicators for Message Identification), a security standard that allows brands with DMARC protection to display their logos in email subject lines.
If, as expected, Google develops a pilot program, “this will prove it works and that validation can be used by large mail systems,” says Seth Blank, director of industry initiatives for Valimail and chair of the AuthIndicators Working Group, the group developing BIMI.
Second is the issuing of a VMC, a tool requiring that email senders are who they say they are.
“The problem this certificate solves is, you have to prove you own the rights to the logo,” Blank says. That would be done through proof of trademark registration.
The VCM is not yet required of BIMI users, but it probably soon will be.
In general, BIMI is accessible to brands with authenticated domains. But VMC adds an extra layer of protection.
“Having mail authenticated doesn’t mean you’re good or bad,” Blank says. “It means I have this domain, but I can be a spammer who authenticates all day every day. VMC gives me a strong attribution so I knew who sent the email.”
DigiCert is a provider of TLS/SSL, IoT and PKI solutions
In another development set to be announced today, 250ok has publicly joined the AuthIndicators Working Group, which also includes Valimail, Verizon Media, Google, Validity’s Return Path, Agari and LinkedIn.
Yahoo Mail, a Verizon brand, is the first major ESP to offer BIMI, although it uses its own reputation validation system; some brands are already using it when sending emails. Google is set to conduct trials in 2020.
Blank notes that logo validation is critical, given episodes like a recent one involving the eBay logo.
“eBay users are reporting opening their inbox to discover that eBay’s email profile picture has been swapped for an image of a woman not wearing very much,” wrote Chris Dawson on Fameboy.
That’s not all, though. According to Blank, preliminary data from Yahoo indicates that “showing the logo increases open rates by about 10%. This is pretty significant.”
Blank cautions that the sample size is not yet large. Still, it’s something to go on.
"It's amazing to see the progress that BIMI has made in the last few years, and the ability to validate logos using VMC is a tremendous step forward," states Alexander García-Tobar, CEO of Valimail and co-founder of the AuthIndicators Working Group