Looking to Turn Non-Delivered Emails into an Advertising Goldmine

By October 07, 2014

The tool processes the huge numbers of ‘undeliverable’ emails flowing across the web, offering mailbox providers and domain owners a way to turn bounced email into a consistent revenue channel.

Some 31 billion emails ‘bounce’ every day worldwide. In these cases, the sender receives a delivery error message – a Delivery Status Notification – from the relevant Mail Transfer Agent, which in all cases is in English. Now Colorado-based startup, founded by former web developer Scott Brown, has come up with a way to enable everyone – apart from spammers – to benefit from this situation. Scott Brown’s business proposition is based on the fact that 60% of all non-delivery reports on bounced email are opened by the original sender, which constitutes an attractive opportunity for advertisers. is offering domain name managers a new way to earn revenue through advertising using real-time sponsored bounce notifications. At the same time this approach will enable mailbox providers to recover some of their operating costs associated with managing bounced emails. Meanwhile the company also claims it will improve the general email user’s experience through targeted messages and relevant information.

Opportunity for MTAs to cash in on advertising                  

Non-delivery notifications for emails that are delivered by the Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) are also used by strategic information tracking services to identify ‘robot’ addresses, which often turn out to be spam generators. Gathering the non-delivery notifications, then uses this huge volume of data to spot the email addresses which are generating the most error messages and which in most cases are ‘spam bots’. The company can then sell this data on to computer security firms which use it in order to improve anti-virus systems such as firewalls designed, inter alia, to prevent malware infiltration into computers and systems via email boxes. Internet service providers (ISPs), which are at the centre of international email traffic, are also potential customers. An average ISP may have up to 10 million subscribers sending many millions of emails every day, a small percentage of which are returned due to an email address error or simple typing slip, requiring resources to manage these anomalies.  The number of error messages – and therefore opportunities to insert a targeted message or ad directed at the email sender – is therefore in proportion to the massive popularity of email as a communication channel and is hoping to persuade ISPs to include advertising in each email error message in return for a fee.

Creating value and benefits from non-delivery notifications

Scott Brown started out by looking at the number of ‘parked’ domains, i.e. where traffic visiting a parked domain or website currently under development will usually be forwarded to another web page containing advertising listings and links. There may be tens of thousands of these. Brown realised that there could be substantial revenue available for a Big Data intermediary working between email users, ISPs and domain name providers. Today has access to eight million domain names and sends close to two million email error messages per day, monetising the traffic by including sponsored content in the messages, which it claims also serve to enhance the user’s experience.

Legal mentions © L’Atelier BNP Paribas