E-Mail Service Adds Logo to Show Authentication

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An e-mail service that displays the sender or brand name's logo in consumer inboxes for authenticated e-mails launches tomorrow.

E-mail identification firm Iconix is working with a few business-to-consumer marketers on a pilot of the Trumark technology and wants e-mail service providers to add it to their services. Similar to security certificates used on many Web sites, Trumark shows consumers that the e-mail is from a trusted source.

"We use the brand logo of the companies as a visual indicator that the e-mail is authentic and that you can trust the sender in a business sense," said Jeff Wilbur, vice president of marketing at Iconix, Mountain View, CA.

The technology authenticates the identity of the sender, then displays the sender's logo in consumers' inboxes so they know the e-mail is really from a company such as PayPal and not a phishing scam.

"Part of what we're bringing back is brand control, to the ones that have been victims of phishing," Wilbur said.

This is how it works: Iconix uses industry authentication methods such as Yahoo's DomainKeys and Microsoft's SenderID to confirm the sender's identity. Consumers who download a free plug-in from Iconix see the sender's logo in place of the typical text name of the sender.

"Senders subscribe to your service and specify the logo they wish to be displayed in the inbox," Wilbur said.

In the service's pay-for-performance pricing model, the sender pays a fraction of a penny each time a logo is displayed in a consumer's inbox.

Iconix's plug-ins support Yahoo Mail and MSN Hotmail, with plans to expand capabilities to other e-mail services in the next several months.

To urge consumers to download the software, Iconix is including a Buddy Profile feature that identifies e-mail from friends and family via photographs that appear next to the e-mails. It also lets consumers create their own online identity, including blog links and RSS feeds, that can appear on Iconix's Web site or in friends' inboxes.

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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