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Spam. How threatening is it?

In spite of skeptic's predictions, spam has not flooded inboxes to the point of driving email users to abandon email, writes Deepak Mankar.

business Updated: Mar 11, 2006 17:46 IST

Man is a worrying animal. His online avatar is no exception. The latest worry is about rampant worldwide click fraud on the Internet. According to The Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, in 2005, 16% of online marketers - thrice as many as in 2004 - were the victims of click fraud, i.e. "the artificial inflation of click through numbers". Another survey by IntelliSurvey Inc and Radar Research showed that 46% of all advertisers in the sample with 500 or more employees had been a victim of click fraud. The crime related more to publishers or networks trying to inflate their affiliate revenues than with competitive click fraud. Of course, this sort of deception has been around for a long time. But, now that more and more marketers are shifting a growing slice of their ad budget to the Internet, the issue has moved centrestage. The growing anxiety found its echo in the recent Search Engine Expo 2006 in New York, says Advertising Age adgage. Its observation was that "anecdotally, search vendors say fraud represents between 5% and 35% of clicks, depending on the industry, reportedly costing marketers up to $1 billion a year."emarketer

Bye, bye, outsourcing 'edge'. South Africa, a live threat to India.

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary, a board member of the National Outsourcing Association, a frequent visitor to India and the author of 'Outsourcing to India: The Offshore Advantage' recently attended in Mumbai what he terms "the annual love-in of Indian technology companies", run by Nasscom, the National Association of Software and Service Companies. He quotes the opinion of Dominique Raviart, senior analyst at Ovum: "The view of many companies in Europe is that Indian technology players only offer us a time and materials service, they don't offer very flexible contracts, and they will lose their cost advantage over time anyway."siliconHe advised "his Indian audience to not lose sight of their low-cost/high-quality advantage in the global marketplace but to work on addressing the doubts." This looks like an early warning to IT outsourcing professionals. The eighth annual Merchants Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report by Dimension Data, for instance, found the annual salary range for a call centre agent in Africa and the Middle East to range from $8,900 to $22,100 only, the dominant location currently being South Africa. A call centre worker in the UK and Europe earns $24,500 to $33,100; his colleagues in the Asia Pacific region, $22,000 to $36,200; and in North America, $17,600 to $26,400. (By the way, salaries, on average, account for 70 per cent of the operating budgets of call centres. Also. The global average attrition rate of staff is 21 per cent, according to the benchmarking numbers. Customer satisfaction - a critical index of call centre performance - also dipped one per cent this year to 82 per cent.) services.silicon. Provoked by 'The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century' by Thomas L Friedman, Foreign Affairs Columnist, The New York times, Peter D'Aprix peterdaprix has his well-reasoned but strongly-felt say here:list.audettemedia.Read an excerpt of Friedman's "timely and essential update on globalization" here: amazon.

Clout in biz blogospere. Startling new findings.

A new reportonalyticalists the top 25 blogs in the descending order of their Issue Influence Index ™ as follows: Corante (4.71); Blog Business Summit (4.42); Business Week (3.99); Business Blog Consulting (3.92); CNN (3.91); Neville Hobson (3.83); Marketing Sherpa (3.40); Blog Write for CEOs (3.22); NY Times (3.04); WebPro News (2.87); eMarketer (2.86); BBC (2.46); Seth Godin (2.46); Wired (2.42); Micro Persuasion (2.40); Ross Mayfield (2.37); SocialCustomer (2.30); PR Planet (2.28); Sun (2.27); Silcon (2.27); Forbes (2.26); Small Business Blog (2.23); Washington Post (2.22); GM Blogs (2.21); and Software Only (2.20). P.S.: I notice that Debbie Weil's Blog Write for CEOs that this column cites frequently is ahead of NY Times, BBC, Seth Godin, Wired and Micro Persuasion. Well done, Ms Weil. onalytica. (P.S.: The Issue Influence Index™ has nothing to do with the popularity of the blog but on the closely related attributes of "influence", "authority" and "relevance" to issues, mind you.)

Global health. Avian flu et al.

The Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation's new Web site, Global Health Facts, allows you to compare health info across countries, primarily on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, as also on SARS, avian flu and yellow fever. globalhealthfacts. The front page offers 'quick hit' statistics, or 'fast facts', on the number of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis cases worldwide, with additional information available either by topic or by country. There is also a clickable ticker bringing you the latest breaking news from GlobalHealthReporting.corg. The current 'Featured Data' is Avian Flu Cases and Avian Flu Deaths. (India's tally is 0 under both heads.)

Spam. How threatening is it?

The FTC recently released a report to the US Congress on the effectiveness of the CAN-SPAM Act. One of the prime issues addressed is that, in spite of skeptic's predictions, spam has not flooded inboxes to the point of driving email users to abandon email. In fact, the FTC states that, "while Spam clearly creates costs for operators of email servers, the volume of Spam does not appear to be destabilizing the email system." In short, email is still very much a viable marketing channel. Another issue covered is the recent Michigan and Utah state laws (and the pending Georgia and Illinois legislation) aimed at protecting children from 'dirty' emails. While agreeing to its role in protecting children from adult-only content, the Commission warned that creating an overall database of emails raises severe privacy concerns, specifically of the list being misused by registry personnel, or worse, the information, being subject to hackers, falling into the very hands the laws aim to guard children from. The number with explicit material had dropped, though, claimed FTC. computerworld. Also: abcnews.

'Kosher' internet? Tell me another, brother.

In his 27 February E-media Tidbits post poynter ('The Ultra-Orthodox Internet'), Alan Abbey writes: "Many sects of Ultra-Orthodox Jews ban their adherents from all computer use, let alone Internet use, for fear of unapproved material getting into the home. … [also] … movies and TV, and so a home computer with a DVD drive … Other groups permit use of the Internet at work, and e-mail at home, …" He also reports that the Ultra-Orthodox newspaper Hamodia hamodia has only a one-page website with e-mail and telephone contacts. According to an Ultra-Orthodox newspaper report, though, a 'kosher' network (a PC with a keyboard and screen and viewing of a limited number of sites and 'approved' news) at about $12 a month is under development and leading rabbis of the Ultra-Orthodox community are scrutinizing it.globesAccording to Abbey, "the real story is that 'underground' Internet use by the Ultra-Orthodox community already exists. Women are using it to vent their frustrations over the lives they lead, including reports of family abuse not widely discussed in such closed communities."

Smart travel search. Do the dohop.

Now that summer is approaching and a lot of Indians are doing early-bird travel planning, I would like to draw my reader's attention to this intelligent travel search engine, developed in Iceland, offering comparative information on 667 airlines. dohop. Prices are now shown in Indian Rupees too in addition to Euros (default), US dollars, British pounds and so on. And, it even makes suggestions "on the fly". Brainy, eh? Read this post researchbuzz before you try it out.

That's all for now though there's plenty more out there. Join me again next week, same place.

Copyright (c) 2001- 2006 by Deepak Mankar. All rights reserved. Deepak Mankar, an advertising practitioner on the creative side since 1965, is also intensely passionate about the web and web content creation. Read his online articles at asiaondemand.com. Website: http://www.addgandhi.com/original/. You may e-mail him at dmankar@bom8.vsnl.net.in.