Benefits of Spam
Many of us think that spam is absolutely useless and inefficient as an advertising tool. How can it be of any use if everyone hates it and never read it? There is a huge variety of anti-spam programs designed to detect and filter out spam letters before they get into Inbox and even if spam managed to squeeze through all those filters most of the people never open it and delete immediately. There is an obvious question then - why do spammers continue to send those millions of spam letters everyday and how can they be useful for advertising purposes?
First of all, we have to admit that in the competitive world of business nothing can survive if it is not efficient and doesn't give enough profit. Therefore, spamming is definitely a profitable business and apparently quite lucrative. So, why does spam exist and how can it bring money if no one reads it?
If you think about it more then you will find a lot in common with TV advertisements. Annoying commercials also do not have many fans and in fact most of the people try to avoid them. According to opinion polls women are usually turning off the sound during commercial breaks, while men prefer to change the channel and those who continue to watch as it is are in minority. And still, companies are spending millions of dollars on creating and showing commercials on different TV channels. No doubt, commercials must have such an effect that all the invested money are coming back with a profit.
The secret is not very obvious but it is repetition. The effect is not even in repetition itself but in repeating many times, huge number of times. You must notice that advertising campaigns can last for years when one and the same commercial is regularly shown everywhere. Years after years, the product is the same and only the commercials are slightly changed. Finally, doing your everyday shopping you realize that among the range of products you in fact prefer one that "you know" and "you need" meaning the product, which is more often and more actively advertised on TV. The whole process can be considered as forming a conditional reflex. Organizing such long-term advertising campaigns companies have to take into account the percentage of instances when a viewer misses the program, changes the channel, turns off the sound or switch off the TV. This percentage is huge and in order to get the desired result commercials must be shown not just very often but infinitely often and everywhere.
Of course, spamming is different from TV advertising for many reasons. Commercials are more often supposed to create image of the product, to attract attention of the viewer to a particular company or brand and not to convince to buy the product "right now", although you can see such commercials as well. The goal of spam is to make you to consider its offer immediately so you either order the promoted product/service or at least visit the promoted web site. However the main idea is the same - there must be many repetitions and hopefully for the spammer, one day a letter with some advertisement arrives exactly when the receiver is being interested in something similar. But before that there must be the "conditional reflex" formed in his/her mind. This is achieved when the e-mail user pays that little bit of attention to a spam letter before deleting it from Inbox - having a look at it or at least checking the subject to make sure the letter is not of value . Having got many similar letters the receiver already has some idea about what is being advertised.
So, after receiving and deleting dozens of letters offering Viagra the person finally gets another one exactly when he considers buying it for some reason. In these circumstances it is highly probable that the person will read the letter carefully and visit the site advertised in it to buy Viagra.
To make all this happen not once or twice but regularly, i. e. to guarantee a steady flow of clients for the advertised company, it is necessary to send spam letters to millions of people and to keep on sending those letter as often as possible. It would be no exaggeration to say that the work of a spammer is similar to that of a gold prospector - tons of sand are passing through his hands and he only gets some few grams of valuable gold. In fact, here is the main weakness of the whole idea of spam that has to be exploited in order to combat spam more effectively. And here you can find some similarities with cryptography. There is no need to create a code that is impossible to break, it is enough to create such a code that the expenses spent on breaking it wold be more than the value of the coded information.
The same can be applied to spam. Creating or choosing a spam filter it is not necessary to try to achieve 100% guarantee of detecting any spam message and in fact this is simply impossible. It is enough to use a filter that is capable of reducing the number of spam messages received by e-mail users to such an extent that spamming advertising campaigns become inefficient and unprofitable. And then, after a while, spam will become unattractive as an advertising tool and will be used less and less often.
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