Amazing Tales

Amazing Tales Chapter One: I monitor email for a living. As a result, my company's developed proprietary software to automatically track both where the email comes from and where it takes us to, regardless of how tricky many "high volume email senders" get to hide their tracks.

So one day you wake up to find an interesting offer in your inbox from a loan referral company called "LendBridge." A few seconds later you receive a completely different offer from a company calling itself "Mortgage Rate Network." Being a good consumer, you might want to do some comparison shopping.

And so you continue to mine your inbox and find offers from the following companies: Lending Network, Mortgage Rate Network, LendBridge, Extend Your, Lending Gateway, Liberty Financing, Low Refinance Rates, Refinance Doctor, Refinancing Advisors, Freedom Quote, USA Lending Network, American Refinance Group, National Warranty Center, Your Loan Success, Extended Warranty Center, Lending Horizons, and 1 Minute Refinancing. Which offer to take?



Well, in the end, it doesn't really matter because all of those offers (more than 30 a day from nearly 20 different "companies" - that are all being brought to you by the same company: American Rate Network) The offers take you to their website.

Since we started tracking these offers in early April (April 4th to be exact) we've received more than 1400 emails from American Rate Network that have been sent to two email address.


Right now, I'm opting out of one of those email addresses. The opt-out procedure is straightforward and it allows you to opt-out of some type of offers and not others. I opted out from the Low Refinance Rates email and asked to be opted-out of all offers, and based on Can-Spam, I should be now opted out from receiving any offers from American Rate Network, not just Low Refinance Rates. I'll report back next week to see how they've done.

Amazing Tales Chapter Two: I have to be honest and say that I just don't get "dynamic" ad delivery in an email. I'm not talking about dynamically serving an ad based on interest, i.e. targeting. I'm talking about an email newsletter that changes the ads every time you open it. How does this provide any benefit to the advertiser or the consumer at all (although I certainly see how it benefits the newsletter publisher)? In my view, it narrows the window of opportunity for an advertiser to an absurd degree. It presupposes that someone is going to react immediately to an offer. But what if I see an ad I'm interested in but have other business to attend to? On reopening the newsletter, I may find the offer gone forever. This is particularly troublesome in newsletters that are focused on the IT, Development and Computer market sectors.

For the most part, the top IT newsletter publishers such as Tech Target understand this, and I've never noticed any dynamically served ads in their many newsletters. This week, though, I was approached by someone from IEntry, a publisher that puts out newsletters for the Web Development and IT audience, who wanted to sell me on advertising in their publication. Now, the reason that "ad permanence" is particularly important in technical journals is that these sources are usually kept around for reference purposes. It is important that there be some permanency within both editorial and advertising because newsletter ads may be passed on to colleagues for their opinion.

IEntry's publications take the opposite approach: For instance, an edition of one of their newsletters, DevWeb Pro, had ads for Google on the day I received it. On opening it later that day, the Google ad had been replaced by an ad for Overture, a direct competitor. A few days later, opening that same email newsletter revealed an ad for Pitney Bowes. Re-opening the newsletter reveals an ad for Kay's Natural Snacks in a sky scraper ad and but refreshing my browser a second later an ad for Conference replaces it. No wait, now it's an ad for Claria. Oops, sorry, now it's back to Google again.


Here's an idea: if you want to send me an offer, send it to me once a day and use the same brand name each time. And if you are sending me a newsletter, put the ads in once and leave them there. Now that would be a truly Amazing Tale.

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