Reports From the Media Frontiers

  • by November 1, 2002
CRMFalse Positivesby Amy Corr, Back in the March issue of MEDIA, we took a look at TRUSTe and ePrivacy, both of which launched tools for email users to differentiate legitimate email from spam. Today, there are two more companies on the list of spam fighters, with very different approaches: one offers a simple bonded seal of approval, while another embeds poetry into its email headers to ensure validity.

Launched in mid-August, anti-spam company Habeas has a sender-warranted email program, which embeds 9 lines of custom header into outgoing email messages. The interesting thing about the embedded headers is that the first three lines make up a trademarked Haiku.

According to Anne Mitchell, President and CEO of Habeas, "it is clear that Congress is never going to pass anything meaningful to curb spam," so the company is relying on existing international copyright and trademark infringement laws to help. The headers are copyrighted and trademarked, so if someone does send disguised spam, they risk a fine upwards of $1 million. The company says that the probability of a "false positive" (a legitimate email mistaken for spam) through their program is slim to none.

Users who wish to sign up for the program fall under 4 different categories: Individuals, ISPs, Standard Business websites, and bulk mailers. The service is free to individuals and ISPs. Standard business websites that do not send out bulk mailings pay a licensing fee of $200 a year, and bulk mailers are placed under a monthly mailing cap with varied pricing. At launch time, Habeas had signed MSN TV and Outblaze on as clients, and partnered with anti-Spam companies SpamAssassin, Junkspy,, and Another spam fighter, email marketing company IronPort, recently came up with the Bonded Sender Program in July. Scott Banister, Founder and Chief Product Officer of IronPort Systems, says the inspiration for the program was the constant struggle of ISPs trying to keep spam out without blocking legitimate content, and marketers trying to get their messages into people’s inboxes without having them filtered directly to the trash or a bulk mail folder.

With IronPort’s technology, messages are bonded based on their originating IP address. A bond size will vary depending on how much email is being sent out. After the message has been sent, the end user (such as a company’s IT department), will be able to verify the sender’s validity. Offenders are fined, and Banister says that anti-spam companies like the bonded sender program because it lowers the probability of false positives.

There is no cost to join the bonded sender program, but there is a catch. At present, only ISPs and anti-spam programs are able to join. IronPort hopes to change that by year’s end.

WirelessAll Aboardby Amy Corr, From DirecTV on JetBlue Airways to mini TVs in minivans, television has officially become our constant traveling companion. Of all the major mass transportation methods, only trains don’t provide wireless entertainment. Until recently, that is, when NRoute Communications, a provider of wireless communications and entertainment services, partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Amtrak.

Beginning in October, Amtrak’s Keystone Service trains traveling from Harrisburg, Pa., to New York City will be equipped with what NRoute CEO Carlos Garcia calls "an ingenious high-speed wireless technology which creates a mobile cable system delivering high-speed digital access to all modes of transportation."

What we have here are color touch screen monitors, located on the backs of all seats, enabling passengers to shop online, make restaurant reservations, send email, and even watch movies and TV. This service comes at no charge to the train passengers and is paid for by advertising, which appears in a special section on the screen. Some of the ads are even clickable, much like an online banner.

NRoute provides a baseline of interactive content (such as entertainment, weather, news, and games) and the vendors provide the rest. Garcia says that NRoute offers "the infrastructure to provide full-motion video on a per-customer basis," something the company hopes will attract advertisers to its "new media channel." Vendors participating in this program not only have advertisements on the screen, but also supply content that passengers can watch. The pricing structure for advertisers and vendors varies. Advertisers pay by quantity and frequency, while vendors pay a yearly fee to showcase their services.

The Scripps Network, composed of HGTV (Home and Garden Television) and DIY (Do It Yourself Network) along with Fox and, is a group of vendors supplying both content and advertising. Ads can be targeted geographically, so if you own a restaurant in New York City, your ad can be shown only within a 30-mile radius of the city. Another interesting built-in feature is Global Positioning Satellite technology. With GPS installed, a passenger can see how far the train is from its destination and how much longer the trip will be.

NRoute plans to bring its technology to more trains, with a concentration on the Northeast quarter of the U.S., as well as to motor coaches and, in the distant future, to airplanes.

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