What the Verizon Acquisition of Aol Means to Senders

TL;DR: Not much.

Aol’s inbound mail infrastructure has been pretty wobbly for a while now, at least from the point of view of large senders. Though things seem to have improved since around April of last year, for a while intermittent outtages of their inbound MTAs had becoming something of a recurring challenge, and the punchline for a few jokes traded on Twitter.

Aol was the first to do a lot of cool things in the email space. They were the first to offer feedback loops, whitelisting services, and among the first to provide senders an idea of what their sending reputation might be. But it’s hard to stay in the front of the pack, especially when you’re facing challengers like Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft.

After years of losing eyeballs, Project Phoenix was announced in 2010. It was an ambitious idea that sought to create a slick, unified messaging platform that included mail, SMS, social media, and other channels. It earned kudos from the user community, but it never quite gained the traction it needed to re-position the company in the messaging space. Development on Phoenix was halted after less than a year.

Verizon isn’t shelling out US$4.4-billion for Aol’s eroding email user base, as many others have pointed out. That means I wouldn’t expect Verizon to prioritize any fixes for what may still be broken with Aol mail.

Reddit ranks the five biggest lies on the Internet

Inbox Zero

M3AAWG Publishes Reboot of Senders’ Best Common Practices Document

Today is another big day for email people: M3AAWG has announced the publication of the completely revised Best Common Practices document for Senders. I co-chair the Senders’ Committee along with my friend and colleague Tara Natanson of Constant Contact, and this document has been the Committee’s biggest project for the last 3 years or so.

I am honored to have been asked to write an introduction for publication on the M3AAWG public site. I think it came out well. An important part of understanding what the BCP is intended to do is understanding what it is not. Continue reading

CRTC Fines Canadian Business CDN $1.1-Million for CASL Violations

And the other shoe has dropped.

In the first publicized application of penalties under Canada’s new anti-spam law, the CRTC announced earlier today that it has imposed penalties of $1.1-million Canadian (about $880K USD) against a firm for four separate violations. The violations include sending email without the consent of its recipients, and for sending mail without a functioning unsubscribe mechanism.

In the announcement, the CRTC identifies the target of the enforcement action as a Canadian company named Compu-Finder, whose mail promotes training courses to other businesses.

There are a couple of other interesting aspects to the action, aside from its novelty, and I wonder whether the CRTC will be able or willing to share additional details later on: Continue reading

Comic Sans

Sending More Mail Will Not Make It Suck Less

If you haven’t been keeping up with the current deliverability tempest in a teacup, you haven’t been missing too much. There’s some interesting material on both sides of the argument and at least one amusing troll, but there’s nothing there that, by itself, should make you change how you’re doing things. (Unless you’re spamming. If you are, you should stop doing that right now.)

It all comes on the heels of remarks by a Microsoft representative at a recent email conference, in which he appears to have reiterated that Outlook.com does not measure clicks on links in email. The premise advanced by some observers following the conference seems to be, “Free inbox providers don’t count clicks, so marketers should send more mail.”

Maybe I’m just not the the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I don’t see how they get there from here. Continue reading