Zen Koans, Free Term Papers And The Case Of The Missing Graphics

One of the things I've learned since we began tracking email is that advertisers that make heavy use of affiliate networks and list brokers to deliver their messages do not have a solid method of monitoring those affiliates and third party lists. They are often in the dark on whether the proper creative was used, if the affiliate is CAN-SPAM compliant, or even which lists they are on.

For instance, last week we showcased a number of emails that were not compliant with CAN-SPAM laws requiring a valid postal address in the email. We were immediately contacted by one of those advertisers who was both unaware and concerned about the lack of compliance, particularly since the marketer had quite purposefully included the return address in all of its most recent creative. By identifying the rogue affiliate -- who by the way was using year old creative without the knowledge of the marketer-- the marketer was able to shut it down.

All of this makes sense in light of some of the strange emails we receive where the affiliate or list broker has added their own "creative" to the email copy, most likely to avoid spam filters. In fact, a few days ago, the New York Time's Saul Hansell reported on an art exhibition that focused on some of the Dada-esque non sequiturs found in our daily inbox.



One of the oddest practitioners of the art of email free verse is a company called Opt In Enterprise, a.k.a. At the end of an email promoting an American-Giveways Sweepstakes, we read: "Billy was nervous about going home. He was afraid his parents would be worried and angry with him for leaving unexpectedly. They were not mad though they were actually proud. His grandfather had told them everything and they understood. Once Billy was home he wanted to start training his dogs. He needed a raccoon hide and went to his grandfather for help."

An email solicitation for men's ties concludes with this Zen Koan: "and it was the individuals duty to live accordingly to their Dao."

An offer from a clothing manufacture includes this intriguing bit of soap opera: "but it is empty. She also finds red beads that belong to Janie Soto. Omishto's mother visits her again."

An American Singles ad leaves us pondering the unfinished thoughts of the French Impressionist with this: "Manette says."

A little research reveals that all of these "poems" come from the same source: a site that provides free term papers. The one about Janie Soto is from a Linda Hogan book: "Power: A Novel." The one about Billy comes from a term paper on "Where the Red Fern Grows."

So what does this all mean? I have no idea except to say that the mentality of a typical spammer may be the same mentality that is well versed in cheating on high school term papers.

Before we leave Opt In Enterprise, there are a few other interesting points to make. I originally was placed on the Opt In Enterprise mailing list as a result of an opt-in offer from the now famous (or infamous) American-Giveaways. That opt-in happened in mid-September, but interestingly enough the Opt In Enterprise domains that sent me the emails were not even created until October. How could I possibly have opted in to receive marketing messages in September from a company that didn't exist until October? Hmmm.

The other point is that I have found that the perceived legitimacy of an email vendor is inversely proportionate to the length of time that they host the marketer's email graphics. For instance, if you received an HTML email message, the graphics in the email are not usually downloaded with the message, but are delivered when you open the message or view it in the preview pane. With most legitimate email marketers, the graphics are hosted for quite a long time so that if you open the email at a later date, you can still view the message.

However, in some cases -- particularly with some suspect emailers -- servers are moved constantly to avoid detection and so you may open an email a week later only to discover blank images where a message used to stand. To track this, we've added a feature to our Competitive Email Tracking System that creates a PDF snapshot of each incoming email to create an archive of all email messages.

Now, of course, I have no idea how legitimate or illegitimate Opt In Enterprise is, but the graphic images in their emails started disappearing fairly soon after we started receiving them. Instead of marketing messages from Gevalia, Driver's Loan, and American Singles, all that's left of these offers is the haunting and strange ravings of an abandoned high school term paper. Or, as the message originally for My Cash Advance Expert now says, with utter simplicity: a single word left in the email for future archeologists to discover: "cruelty."

Next story loading loading..