OPINION: E-mail ads in UK must improve upon US efforts

On hearing that online sales house 24/7 had launched an e-mail division in the UK, I immediately dug out a rant I once wrote blasting junk e-mail.

On hearing that online sales house 24/7 had launched an e-mail

division in the UK, I immediately dug out a rant I once wrote blasting

junk e-mail.

The column in question was written in New York, where our inboxes were

frequently flooded with unsolicited e-mail ads for mosquito-repelling

aftershave or folk gigs in North Dakota.

But with media owners over here quoting clickthrough rates as high as 18

per cent, insisting that e-mail is the next big thing, and (yawn)

predicting it will hasten the demise of the banner, I thought I should

canvass the buyers and planners before writing a similarly scathing


Mocking my scepticism, every planner or buyer I spoke to claimed e-mail

advertising would live up to the bullish billing it has received from

media owners and sales houses.

’Whenever anything is described as the next big thing you have to be

careful,’ said John Owen of Motive, the agency whose Flat Eric e-mail

campaign gained plaudits last year. ’But when it’s done well, it can be

incredibly effective. The Flat Eric clip was sent to just 150 people and

it became a cult.’

Jamie Estrin at online planning and buying agency Profero was similarly

confused about my concerns. ’Media owners that offer e-mail publication

advertising will fail if they can’t deliver the response, so anyone

sending unrequested e-mails or spamming people will die quickly.’

BMP Interactive’s Jason Goodman chorused: ’Permissioned data is your

lifeblood in this game, and the companies using the medium understand

that. There’s no point targeting people who don’t want your information

- anyone doing that is going to damage their brand.’

And so it went on, with everyone I spoke to praising the responsiveness

and potential of the e-mail ad and stressing its incredible

cost-effectiveness for clients. There were few cautionary words.

Their confidence was so at odds with my experience of spammy e-mails in

the US I can only assume the medium has moved on since I was there, and

that we stand to benefit from America’s mistakes. It is also possible

that UK media owners, buyers, planners and consumers are more discerning

than the Yanks.

Either that or this is a case of people talking up a medium that is in

danger of becoming the bane our online lives, with unrequested e-mails

clogging up company networks. If this happens, the clickthrough rates

will plummet as people’s immunity to this potentially intrusive form of

advertising rises.

It is down to the media sales teams to limit the opportunities for

e-mail advertising, ensure it is targeted carefully and used only when

it is requested.

Become a member of Campaign from just £45 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content


1 Why creative people have lost their way

What better way to kick off Campaign's relaunch than with another think piece on the current failings of our industry, written by an embittered, pretentious creative who misses "the way things used to be"...


1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).