Why Online Newspapers Require Registration: Spam

from the spammity-spam-spam dept

Last week we wrote about John C. Dvorak’s belief that newspapers are adding registration to make themselves believe that their paper business isn’t really threatened by the web, and Rich Skrenta at Topix has picked up on this idea and explained the two big reasons why newspapers require registration. The first one agrees with Dvorak, suggesting a typical Innovator’s Dilemma response (basically, subconsciously denying that this new medium could be a threat, and acting in ways that make the new medium look worse to themselves, rather than thinking about ways to embrace it). The second, however, is the main reason most sites require registration: spam. Direct mail marketing companies are offering ridiculous ($300 CPM) fees for email lists of registered newspaper readers for spam purposes. Never mind the fact that many of those email addresses are bogus dirty data, the newspapers see cash from spam. This isn’t, as they claim, about having more detailed demographic info to “more accurately target advertising,” but about having your email address to sell to spammers. Once again, BugMeNot becomes a useful anti-spam tool. It seems hard to believe selling email addresses to spammers could be a successful long-term business strategy.

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Comments on “Why Online Newspapers Require Registration: Spam”

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TJ says:

Experienced this in 2002

I registered with the local newspaper’s site, using a disposal e-mail address that was used nowhere else because I didn’t trust them. The next month this address, which was highly random alphanumeric and had never gotten an e-mail, started getting e-mail from a state Republican candidate. I turned the address off, but the log shows it still gets e-mail attempts from only Republican campaigns two years later. So newspapers selling e-mail addresses commercially is hardly a stretch if they’ll sell or give them to politicos.

Tony Gentile (user link) says:

Is it SPAM if you opt-in?

Mike, don’t hate me, but of course, we see this one differently. 😉

Full post here:

“Yes, certainly, the online divisions of the major newspaper chains have been charged with becoming profitable businesses. And yes, many of them require registration so that, like everyone else who requires registration, they can profile you (for better ad targeting) and email marketing. The latter generates significantly better CPMs (vs. what they can charge for IAB placed ads), but, at least at KRD, is only done…”

Thomas Burg says:

I disagree

I cannot say whether or not newspapers are selling their customer lists to spammers, though it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

What newspapers are doing with that information is a little more high-tech than what you’re suggesting. They’re working in concert with technology companies to create targeted advertisements based on a user’s demographic information. Hence, based on your profile, you might get a Mercedes ad, a Honda ad, or a Schwinn ad. Because of this ability to target more appropriately, newspapers can sell ad space for higher CPM rates to advertisers with the understanding that the audience would be more receptive to the ad they’re getting.

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