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March 12, 2005

Pinpoint Marketing...With a Shotgun

Plenty of spam messages make you scratch your head when you try to figure out why on Earth you're receiving an advertisement for something that you wouldn't have an interest in over the next million years. It proves my belief that spamming is virtually the antithesis of direct mail marketing, where it's too expensive (printing, postage, list rental, etc.) to send mailings to the wrong people campaign after campaign. A lot of spammers seem to believe that the more messages sent, the merrier. A successfully targeted email piece is one that gets past spam filters, regardless of the demographics of the recipient.

Just when you've thought you've seen everything, in comes a message selling a drivers license guide for the United Arab Emirates. That's right. It's a beginner's manual that supposedly teaches me how to obtain a driving license for use within the U.A.E.

The spamvertised domain is registered in the U.A.E., and has been in existence for three years. Although I didn't visit the Web site, it's quite possibly a legitimate business that has hired an "email marketing service" to help spread the word. The message contains several less obvious pointers to a domain whose name contains "emarketing" in it (with a suspicious domain registration record, to boot).

Here's my guess as to what's going on. The driving school hired this "emarketing" outfit to do some targeted email advertising on the school's behalf. The school may have even received a spam message pitching the service. Who knows? "Emarketers" flaunt targeted emailing campaigns, but if my inbox is any measure, their targets are on the scale of a broad side of a barn at close range. I can't imagine how my email address (presumably harvested from my other domain and/or circulating in spammers' databases) could be associated with a desire to get a drivers license in the Mideast. I don't think my blind cat would be a candidate, either. And (pardon the pun) making a blind mailing to the world about such a specialized product would seem an exceptional waste of time and money (even on spam terms).

For a brief moment, I actually have a tiny sliver of compassion for the driving school, because it may have been a spam victim on the other side of the equation. But the fact that it failed to perform due diligence on the "emarketer" it may have hired puts it right back into the spamvertiser column in my ledger book.

Posted on March 12, 2005 at 09:20 PM