RealTime IT News

24/7 Media Shifts Standards for E-mail Lists

In an effort to win points among consumer privacy advocates, and improve the quality of its e-mail lists, 24/7 Media Inc. on Wednesday changed its standards for collecting e-mail addresses, adopting a double opt-in policy.

Double opt-in means that, after a subscriber to an e-mail list signs up, an e-mail message is sent to that person's e-mail address to confirm that he intended to subscribe. To actually be added to the list, the person must respond to the confirmation message. 24/7 is calling it a "closed-loop" sign up process.

"For customers, the closed-loop sign-up is a quick and easy process that protects against unwanted e-mails and other infringements to privacy," said Michael Rowsom, general manager of 24/7 Mail.

"For our clients sending e-mail, closed-loop is a well-respected business practice and way for e-mail campaigns to become even more effective--you're certain that the people you are reaching are interested in your product."

Rowsom said there wasn't any one reason the company shifted gears in this area, and denied that it was getting a significant amount of complaints about malicious sign-ups. In fact, he said only 60 of 21 million people who were sent e-mail complained of being signed up for a list against their will.

"It's sort of where the industry is going," said Rowsom. "We think it's good business. We think it's the right way to go."

Some other e-mail marketing firms, like NetCreations, also use the double opt-in policy. The drawback, if any, is that companies using such a practice may collect fewer e-mail addresses. 24/7 Media in the past has boasted of having "the largest global permission based email database in existence today." But Rowsom says he's not concerned about losing list members.

"I think consumers are going to identify it as a filter, if you will," said Rowsom. "Double opt-in is an important part of the subscription process."

24/7 Media says the new practice will only apply to its e-mail service bureau, or e-mail distribution, customers. Those are the customers for which it sends e-mail messages. RollingStone.com is among the first of 24/7 Media's e-mail service bureau clients to adopt this privacy best practice. Customers for whom 24/7 Mail sells e-mail lists won't immediately be required to meet with these standards.