ISPs and e-mail software creators adopt measures to block unwanted messages

Marketers who are putting millions of pounds into e-mail marketing because they think it is completely trackable are in for a shock, online experts are warning.

New consumer protection measures being adopted by internet services providers (ISPs) and e-mail software creators, including Microsoft, effectively block the ability to register when someone opens an e-mail and whether or not they act on it.

E-mail marketers mostly use codes embedded in images to check whether someone opens a particular e-mail. But ISPs and e-mail programs now routinely block all images, unless the computer user specifies otherwise.

Users are still able to read the text of e-mails without downloading images, so it is no longer possible to accurately calculate how many e-mails are being opened.

Experts say this could undermine recent growth in e-mail marketing, which has been driven almost exclusively by its transparency and the ability to calculate return on investment.

Grant Jenkins, a director of OgilvyOne, says: “The blocking of images will prevent e-mail marketing being as effective a form of communication as it has been to date. However, the biggest impact could come from the drop-off in click-through rates – e-mails without images could be unintelligible.”

Skip Fidura, director of European operations at agency Digital Impact and chairman of the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) special committee on e-mail deliverability, says: “ISPs and the companies that make e-mail packages are responding to consumer demand, and consumers are saying, ‘I don’t want all this spam.'”

Fidura adds that the DMA wants to “raise the awareness of deliverability issues” with UK marketers.

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