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New Authentication Services Focus on Consumers

Though many e-mail marketing and technology firms added authentication and reputation programs this year, two new services aim to approach the problem from the consumer's point of view.

Marketing Scoop LLC, Robbinsville, NJ, which provides online resources for marketing professionals, launched a SafeLink advocacy program that asks marketers to provide assurances that e-mails and URL links are safe to consumers.

“Not enough has been done to solve the problem of non-solicited e-mail. Legislation is not enough,” Marketing Scoop president Michael Harrison said. “The only way to solve this problem once and for all is with an advocacy program where all consumers join together and fight back.”

Meanwhile, Iconix Inc., Mountain View, CA, updated its Truemark e-mail identification program to include a gold lock and checkmark icon in e-mails from 300 senders, and now calls the service “Checking it Twice.”

The e-mail reputation programs coincide with a new study finding that most consumers are deceived by phishing scams. America Online and the National Cyber Security Alliance released results of a study yesterday showing that 70 percent of consumers are fooled by e-mails that appear to be from legitimate senders, such as their banks.

Marketers that sign up for Marketing Scoop's SafeLink program are required to provide specific information about their companies and e-mail marketing practices. If approved, it provides senders with a digital certificate and SafeLink icon that is included in all HTML e-mails to let consumers know those e-mails are “safe.”

Iconix's service identifies e-mails from eBay, Costco, PayPal, Citibank, Dell and 300 other major brands and Web sites with a “Truemark” gold lock icon as a “public service to consumers.”

“Part of what we're bringing back is brand control, to the ones that have been victims of phishing,” said Jeff Wilbur, vice president of marketing at Iconix.

The program was developed independently of the senders, Iconix said, and 300 brands are included free of charge in the initial rollout. Additional brands that join will pay to be included in the “Checking it Twice” program.

Consumers who download a free software plug-in from Iconix see the gold lock and checkmark icon next to legitimate senders' names in their inboxes in Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo Mail. Legitimate senders are determined using industry authentication standards, including Yahoo's DomainKeys and MSN Sender ID.

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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