Ever wondered how spammers can be profitable? According to this BBC article, researchers have calculated that those sending unsolicited e-mails can make a profit by attracting just one sale from every 12.5 million spam e-mails sent. Even though their conversion rates are well under 0.00001%, big spam networks generate more than $3.5 million USD in annual revenue. All it takes is thousands of hijacked machines sending hundreds of millions of spam messages a day. More details in the original research paper (PDF) by Chris Kanich et al. Crazy!


Arancaytar (not verified):

So if you were still wondering how spammers can sleep at night, the answer apparently is: Very comfortably, on very, very expensive pillows.

I'm wondering if spammers go to some kind of hell. Because otherwise, I have a few million emails to send... ;)

Usamah (not verified):

Thanks you a lot Dries for citing this invaluable Berkeley paper. Haven't gone through it all yet, but it stated right ahead one of the fundamental reasons why spamming is continuous: people don't confess their acceptance to it! I have two personal stories, one with my sister & the other with a friend who's a BSc holder in CS. Both had once approached me inquiring if they should respond to specific emails which were pure spam. I expounded on explaining that is called spam and how bad that is just to discover later on that they both responded back to the emails.

And this is why spammers regularly exploit these instinctive & usually hidden desires. I'm very impressed with how my Gmail account almost never receives spam in the inbox. However, almost 9 out of 10 emails that get into my spam folder are of the "impress your partner with your new gigantic tool" type, which means that this "hooking" technique is proving very successful in particular. Essentially it isolates the victim from the outside world, and convince him/her that their problem can solved, quickly & quietly and that that solution is just one click away! Phew!

Long live spam fighters! ;-)

Pztrick (not verified):

I just hope my Gmail continues to be so successful at blocking spam... I hope Google can innovate faster in this arms race.