Filip Poutintsev, Spam Apologist

A recent post on LinkedIn from Finland’s finest is claiming to debunk all the arguments for why spam might be bad.

Filip, it doesn’t occur to you that the Internet community understood this to be the case long before big mail receivers and ESPs existed? You might wish to google Gary Thuerk, for example. On May 3, 1978, when he sent the first spam ever, you were all of minus nine years old, weren’t you. :)

So cut out the paranoia, it got old long before you had even got into the business.

March 2016 in Spamtraps: ESPs and Social Networks

ESP mail seen in spamtraps, March 2016

ESP mail seen in spamtraps March 2016

Coming in a little late this month. The percentage of ESP sent mail vs all mail seen in the spamtraps is only 0.6% this month; it has to do both with seeing less ESP mail (about 80% of last month’s figures), and a huge increase in botnet spam. Technically, this is a top 11 list this month because Topica and Oracle Marketing Cloud managed to match spam counts so closely that a comparison would be meaningless.

0 All others 46.7%
1 SalesForce Marketing Cloud 10.1% ExactTarget Kohls (<4%)
2 MailChimp 8.8% 24% Mandrill,
76% MC proper
Lulu (<3%)
3 SendGrid 8.7% Yelp (<7%)
4 Experian 4.5% Express (<6%)
5 Constant Contact 3.8% Advisor Perspectives (>33%)
6 Shared between Topica and OMC 3.3% OMC = Responsys, Eloqua and RightNow Topica: e-dailydealalerts (>80%)
OMC: Team Sportia, Sweden (<7%)
7 Amazon SES 3.2% 7dayshop (<9%)
8 IBM Marketing Cloud 3.2% Silverpop The DCCC (~7%)
9 Mailgun 2.5% F1 Forum, Finland (<9%)
10 Digital Metrics 2.1% Hard to tell – domain names look like snowshoe

Bubbling under, we have WhatCounts (2%), SmartFocus aka EmailVision (1.6%) and Yesmail (1.5%).

Here’s the “relative badness” graph. Topica is scaling down from last month – because we noticed that not all ESPs (Topica and Vertical Response, most notably) use the customers’ domain names in their From:, opting for CUSTOMER(@) or CUSTOMER(@) instead, for example. These have been taken into account for those two operations. If you know that something more must be wrong in this figure because of such reasons (or indeed have any criticism of the analyses presented in this blog series), please embarrass me in public (or privately, if you must).

Amount of messages per separate customer of ESP, March 2016

Amount of messages per separate customer of ESP, March 2016

We also have a new table: top spamming customers.

1 e-dailydealalerts Topica 81% 2.7%
2 WhatCounts 81% 1.6%
3 Constant Contact 34% 1.3%

On the social networking side, Facebook continues spamming the living daylights out of the world, to the tune of 3.5 times more than all ESPs combined.

Facebook vs all ESPs, March 2016

Facebook vs all ESPs, March 2016

If Twitter was an ESP, it would have scored #1 on the Top 10 ESP list this month, if only by a very small margin against SMC. (Obviously discounting Facebook from the equation.)

Facebook and Twitter vs. the top 10 ESPs, March 2016

Facebook and Twitter vs. the top 10 ESPs, March 2016

There’s no point graphing Facebook mail subject lines any more; over 90% of it is “give us the login information for your mailbox”, aka “You have more friends on Facebook than you think”. I am really quite appalled at this, and am wondering whether the spam blocklists will ever take note.

Over and out. Thank you for listening! See you again next month.

Capital One: Poster Boy for Poor Security and Privacy

Capital One, a large US-based bank and credit card issuer, stands out for sending by far the largest number of transactional emails containing personally identifying information (PII) to my spamtrap collection. :/ Capital One uses a number of ESPs, but its transactional emails are usually sent from Bigfoot Interactive, owned by Epsilon Interactive.

Read more…

February 2016 in Spamtraps: ESPs
(And a word about some social networks)

ESP mail seen in spamtraps February 2016

ESP mail seen in spamtraps February 2016

Do remember to read this ’til the bitter end… it’s a tad longer than usual.

Let’s start the post that includes spam from MAAWG 36 week (hi y’all! great catching up with you!) with the standard stuff. Somewhere during the latter part of the month, we collated all of Oracle Marketing Cloud into one; no more separate Responsys, Eloqua and RightNow. Having said that, the contributions from the latter two are so small as to be practically meaningless.

The percentage of ESP sent mail vs all mail seen in the spamtraps is 1.5% this month.

Read more…

Penton Media: Spamming a Scraped Contact Email Address

Penton Media, a marketing firm with a past history of sending opt-out bulk email (spam), is emailing bulk advertisements to the contact email address for my personal blog ( The ESP is the Oracle Marketing Cloud, which is the combination of former ESPs Eloqua and Responsys, both of which Oracle now owns.

Read more…

January 2016 in spamtraps: Facebook


What is going on? Facebook is hitting spamtraps like there’s no tomorrow. The comparison is against the total mail volume in the same spamtraps of the top three ESPs combined.

Microsoft Office 365: How to spam with impunity is useless. If you want to spam with no action whatsoever from the 800 pound gorilla of email, who are also too large to be added to any blocklists anywhere, sign up with Office 365 and there you go.

Recent player:, Finnish vendor of spam lists going back at least six years.

January 2016 in spamtraps: ESPs

ESP mail seen in spamtraps January 2015

ESP mail seen in spamtraps January 2015

We’ve come full circle; this is the first post of the new year. Thanks to all who are keeping up with the series. Hope to see you in Frisco in two weeks.

The percentage of ESP sent mail vs all mail seen in the spamtraps is 1.4% this month.
Read more…

December 2015 in spamtraps: ESPs

ESP mail seen in spamtraps December 2015

ESP mail seen in spamtraps December 2015

The percentage of ESP sent mail vs all mail seen in the spamtraps is 1.3% this month.
Read more…

Effortia, a British ESP, and an anonymous Finnish spamming service will probably have reason to take a look at / (two anonymized domains sending materials in Finnish) now that used their services to spam. It would be interesting to see the contents of the FI-LISTA.

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