DoubleClick Unveils Anti-Spam Initiatives

DoubleClick announced various initiatives Thursday, including a partnership with AOL, designed to keep its e-mail marketing clients from getting swept up in the anti-spam hysteria.

With federal legislation suggestions mounting and Internet service providers taking hard lines against spam, DoubleClick said it would work on a number of fronts to find the best ways to target spam without simultaneously hurting legitimate e-mail marketers. DoubleClick is one of the larger e-mail service providers in the industry, mailing about 2 billion messages a recent quarter.

The first part of the company’s initiative is a partnership with America Online to study consumer reactions to spam through a user survey. AOL has been at the forefront of the fight against spam, stopping over 1 billion unsolicited e-mail messages per day. The research, slated for initial release next month, will focus on finding out how consumers identify spam, to give marketers a better idea of how they can avoid being unfairly singled out as spammers. DoubleClick said it received over 2,000 responses.

AOL has relied heavily on user feedback in its anti-spam policy. The cornerstone of its effort is the service’s “report spam” button, which AOL reported has been used about 4 million times daily by members since it was introduced last October. However, the ISP has readily admitted that many legitimate e-mail marketing messages have been tagged as spam by members who are clicking the button rather than unsubscribing.

When a user hits the “report spam” button, mail from that sender is automatically blocked in the future. In addition, a complaint is sent to AOL, which sorts them to find spammers. E-mail marketing companies have a certain threshold of complaints to reach before AOL looks into taking action against them.

In addition to the AOL partnership, DoubleClick said it would work with Assurance Systems to buff up its delivery management tools for e-mail marketers. (Assurance Systems was recently purchased by Return Path, in which DoubleClick has an investment.) The delivery tools would work in tandem with DoubleClick’s dynamic IP addressing capabilities provided through IronPort.

In recognition that federal and state legislation and ISP filtering policies will remain a serious concern for its 300 e-mail marketing clients, DoubleClick said it would begin to issue a quarterly review of both government and ISP actions on the spam front. The report will draw on the feedback gathered from the company’s privacy and ISP-relations team. The first report is slated for publication later this summer.

Finally, DoubleClick plans to expand on its existing client Webinars to host a half-day spam conference in the fall. The conference will bring together regulators, legislators, ISPs and e-mail marketers to hash out the state of the spam fight.

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