Introduction: It’s Not New, And It Pays To Be A Spammer
Way back in 2002 when the Wall Street Journal (I won’t link as its behind a pay wall) wrote an article on the Spam Queen – Laura Betterly – some top email spammers were making insane profits. She and three friends started Data Resource Consulting with a $15,000 investment. Her projected income for that year was $200,000, on the back of 60 Million emails a month.
The Best Way To Measure Spam Is To Be A Spammer
This is not a new phenomenon as you can see. University of California, Berkeley and UC, San Diego, ran a study in 2008 titled “Spamalytics: An Empirical Analysis of Spam Marketing Conversion” which ran an experiment to work out the conversion rate of spam. As you can see, they have effectively defined the experiment and the economics behind it, summarizing the conversion funnel via their “spam conversion pipeline”.
Extract from the summary:
“Under the assumption that our measurements are representative over time, we can extrapolate that … Storm-generated pharmaceutical spam would produce roughly $3.5 million dollars of revenue a year,”
The Berkeley Study isnt the only conclusive proof of how email spam was, and to some extent continues to be, a profitable way to make money. Various articles have been written on email spam over the years, as well as expose books, and autobiographies by self acclaimed email spammers.
Unfortunately the whole email spam boom was further expanded by businesses not respecting privacy laws and using email databases to ruthlessly spam. I think the Dilbert strip below captures that fairly well: (source http://dilbert.com/fast/2000-11-13/)
How does this relate to web spam? Well, first off, although the techniques to spam search engines differ, the profitability may not. Secondly, I dont believe a detailed study has been carried out on the economics of web spam, and it helps to bench mark one form of spam against the other.
In later posts I discuss the economics of web spam, but it was important to understand that the random email spam you get is still profitable. The key thing to keep in mind, is that spammers are marketers too.