DoubleClick & AOL: Consumers Do Try Unsubscribing From Spams

Last month, a posting on the Poynter Institute’s E-Media Tidbits site highlighted a marketing newsletter report (which the newsletter has since put behind a paid access archive) that unpublished parts of a Quris study of 1,691 American e-mail users found that 92.3% didn’t bother unsubscribing from spams (hence 7.7% did try).

We objected to Poynter. We noted that none of Quris’ published surveys and reports contain any such data nor conclusions. We also pointed out that Poynter, an institute that trains journalist, shouldn’t be citing as fact a second-hand report about a survey when that survey itself as published doesn’t contain any such data or claim. Poynter’s response to us was that the marketing newsletter’s editor claims that Quris had told her that more data from the survey would be published, including data that would verify what the marketing newsletter wrote. Poynter let the Tidbit stand.

A month has since passed without the claimed data being published by Quris. Maybe Quris someday will publish that data. Meanwhile, DoubleClick and AOL this week published a surveyed containing first-hand data contrary to Poynter’s second-hand report.

DoubleClick and AOL surveyed 2,357 AOL users about spam. Not surprisingly, 62% said that spam was “very frustrating.” However, 72% of the frustrated (44.6% of all respondents) attempted to unsubscribe from the spams. This published survey’s unsubscribe percentage is six times higher that that claimed in the Poynter Tidbit. That difference isn’t within the realm of statistical variance: either the claimed data not published by Quris is wrong or the published data by DoubleClick and AOL is.

We’ll the first-hand published results about a larger group versus a second-hand report about unpublished data from a smaller group. Either way, the Quris and DoubleClick/AOL surveys both report that, despite rising problems with spams and e-mail viruses, American consumers continue to read and value e-mails sent regularly from trusted companies, including news media. Indeed, we know of no American news media that have reported declining e-mail publishing circulation or e-mail opening rates, despite uninformed claims that e-mail publishing is dying as a vehicle for news publishing.