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Porn Dominates the Spam Battlefield 183

Posted by timothy
from the bus-plunges-off-ravine dept.
An anonymous reader writes "New York Times has published an article that explores the economics that control what type of spam shows up in your inbox. The study was done by CipherTrust and shows that porn spam is 280 times more effective than spam advertising pharmacy drugs. Paul Judge offered the following towards an explanation: 'If you look at some of the oldest and most successful forms of business on earth, they revolve around sex.'"
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Porn Dominates the Spam Battlefield

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  • Combo Ads (Score:5, Funny)

    by neonprimetime (528653) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:02AM (#15666658) Homepage
    pron spam is 280 times more effective than spam advertising pharmacy drugs

    I prefer the Combo ads, where it tries to sell you Viagra and shows you pictures of who you could use it on.
  • Duh (Score:4, Funny)

    by l5rfanboy (977086) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:02AM (#15666659)
    Snake oil is snake oil, but free boobies? PRICELESS
  • We all get it and I'm sure we mostly delete it on the spot with all other SPAM. But I have to admit, if they were to give just a few "freebies" in the SPAM message itself they might be more effective. I mean.. I see a stupid head line, deliberately poor English and a cryptic URL that is typically broken by Outlook Express. Don't make me work for it! :-)

    Seriously.. I've been getting more high risk stock SPAMs lately. Almost seems like a securities fraud case waiting to happen.
    • by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:07AM (#15666700) Homepage
      What about us poor souls who use the preview mode which only shows a couple of lines of text only? We miss out on the free pics because all we see is something like "Algorithm Leotard Temple Quantum Holiday FR3E P-0R.N!" (An actual line from my spam bin).
    • I've been getting a lot of stock spam too. I checked several of them and sure enough, many of them go up the day I got the spam then down, down, down. Classic pump-and-dump. If only it were closer to 100% reliable I'd start shorting the stock when I get the spam.
      • I never bothered to check into it. I can't believe people are stupid enough to do it. You'd hope they realize that whoever is sending these things already bought their shares before the email went out.

        Can't wait until the FTC gets involved. It probably won't take very long to figure out who's working in syndicate on this SPAM scheme. They're going to get hurt pretty hard. I mean.. after a while they will be able to figure out who is buying just before these SPAMs go out and start putting together the s
        • It's worth trying.

          I'm skeptical, since real analysts publish shady findings in real publications and make illicit profits without getting busted. Much.

        • Re:porn spam (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Mister Whirly (964219)
          "It probably won't take very long to figure out who's working in syndicate on this SPAM scheme. They're going to get hurt pretty hard. I mean.. after a while they will be able to figure out who is buying just before these SPAMs go out and start putting together the syndication."

          Well, the NSA has their - emails, phone records, and bank records - it shouldn't take them too long.
          • True, but hunting securities fraud is not part of NSA's bidness. If they the various intelligence communities are actually trying to be more open with each other.. then it could lead to something.

            My guess is there are some serious firewalls with the work NSA is doing to make sure the other agencies don't learn something they can't know legally. This is starting to edge into a somewhat political debate that I don't want to get into. Since it involves the Department of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act
    • The scary thing about stock tip spam ("XXXXX set to rocket on Wednesday!!!") is that presumably enough suckers buy it that it really does increase in price.

      I suspect that the spammers or their contacts buy stock just before sending out the spam, wait for the price to be artificially inflated by thousands of idiots who think they've accidentally received a valuable tip intended for someone else buying it all up, then sell shortly before the rise they promised happens (as this is when the fools realise that
      • The scary thing about stock tip spam ("XXXXX set to rocket on Wednesday!!!") is that presumably enough suckers buy it that it really does increase in price.

        What's so scary - this trick is as old as the stock market. Before email it was fax and phone tools - classic boiler room operations. All that has happened is email has become one more way to reach suckers; a very cheap way at that.

        I suspect that the spammers or their contacts buy stock just before sending out the spam, wait for the price to be artific
      • I did wonder if it was possible to profit from this. Write a script that sits in a spam honeypot, and buys any shares that are suggested. Then have it inspect the market and once the shares dip n% (i.e. those running the scam are selling) sell them all. If anyone implements this, they owe me 10%...
        • Safer to sell just before the time they said it would go crazy at. That way, you get whatever percentage they get, plus you hurt their yield a little.
    • No. We do not all get it. And the article title is complete bullshit. It is simply untrue.

      The distribution of SPAM content is different across SPAMming methods.

      Porn and viagra are transmitted are transmitted in 99.999% of the cases by zombie networks. Once you have rolled out greylisting and XBL they drop to nearly 0%.

      Compared to that, Nigerian and Lottery fraud are transmitted via clients sitting behind legitimate relays or using "live" zombies which sit and type into webmail. You still get these even if y
  • Well no shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedyNO@SPAMtpno-co.org> on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:04AM (#15666679) Homepage
    Seriously, is this news to anyone? All it takes to learn this is to flip on the TV to any station. Christ, even the local catholic church station. You'll notice they put the prettiest girl they have up on the tube. Why do you think that is?

    Sex sells. I love it when they do this on religion stations especially.
    • Re:Well no shit (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The news isn't that sex sells, it's that sex sells at a rate 280 times higher than that of its closest competitor.
      • Actually... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TCQuad (537187) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:59AM (#15667063)
        The news isn't that sex sells, it's that sex sells at a rate 280 times higher than that of its closest competitor.

        The closest competitor is pharmaceuticals (e.g., ads for Viagra/Cialis/Levitra).

        So it's not just that sex sells at a rate 280 times higher than that of its closest competitor, it's that sex sells at a rate 280 times higher than that of its closest competitor, which is also sex.
    • I think all my spam is about sex. Porn is simply the most blatant.

      Pills? Get harder, hairier, whateverer in order to get sex.
      Make Money Fast? Attract sex partners with all that dough.
      Fake rolex? attract idiotic materialistic sex partners with that bogus bling.
      Collidge Degree Quik? Attract the bookworm type with your misspelt diploma.

      Seriously, can anyone think of spam that doesn't convert to sex?

      • Seriously, can anyone think of spam that doesn't convert to sex?

        Seriously, if you're a hetero man, can you think of anything you do that doesn't have "a slight probability of having sex" as a motive? The whole point of living is sex, no?

        • 1. Going camping with some friends.
          2. Eating cheetos.
          3. Fixing my mom's computer.

          Other than that, it's all about sex.

        • Re:all spam is sex (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Ed Avis (5917)
          Seriously, if you're a hetero man, can you think of anything you do that doesn't have "a slight probability of having sex" as a motive?
          Posting on Slashdot?
    • You'll notice they put the prettiest girl they have up on the tube. Why do you think that is?

      Sex sells. I love it when they do this on religion stations especially.

      Does human beauty always allude to sex?

      Beauty is a broad concept. And appeals to us in many different ways.

      Here's something from Wikipedia on beauty [wikipedia.org] ( I really hate to throw obvious Wiki quotes around, but people sometimes don't do the basic background research themselves )...

      An "object of beauty" may be anything that reveals or resona

      • While interesting, you'll notice I said pretty. And generally, pretty alludes to attractiveness, which is key to sex.
        • And generally, pretty alludes to attractiveness, which is key to sex.
           
          Not for many, if the attractiveness of some of the women my housemate have woken up to are any bearing.

          And what is not to love about the Hoffmeister?
      • Does human beauty always allude to sex?

        In general, yes because as a species we are wired to reproduce; beauty is one signal that the other person is healthy and will be able to produce healthy offspring. We seek signs that a prospective mate will help be able to reproduce and provide desirable traits in our children. Beauty is one part of that; and what is attractive in a male to a female is different than what a man finds attractive in a female; a good bit of that is driven by the economic factors in a re
    • even the local catholic church station.

      What do you mean *even*? You don't know any Catholics, do you?
  • yeah? (Score:2, Funny)

    by MrSquirrel (976630)
    All your spam are belong to porn!
  • by gvc (167165) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:05AM (#15666684)
    I like the unsubstantiated side-bar claiming that porn spam had a 5.6% click-through rate. I suppose that's 5.6% of delivered spam? How could this possibly be measured? I'm not saying it can't be approximated but a sidebar and a couple of quotes are hardly sufficient evidence.
    • Doomed (Score:3, Insightful)

      My God, I hope that number is inflated. The economics of spam are always based on, "Well, even if only 1/100 of 1% results in a purchase, it's profitable for them". If 5.6% of porn spams actually are actually clicked through, it means that spam is getting way, way more attention than the threshold, and the spams are never going away, even though only a fraction of those click-throughs result in sales. Crap.

      (Looking is, for the most part, free, except that if you're clicking through porn spam you're probabl
      • Unless you don't have a local mail client ;) I really wonder how many of these issues I avoid completely by relying on web mail...

        -Rick
    • by Respawner (607254) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:19AM (#15666776)
      If i'm not mistaken the img's from spam isn't included in the email itself, but it's on a webserver, so if you simply count the number of send spam vs number of unique visitors to those img's you have the delivery rate, check those ip's against the ip's of the people following the link and you not only have the click-through rate, but you also have the number of people who click-through more then once ;-)
    • Oh come on - surely you're not implying that spammers lie are you?
      • No, I'm implying (actually saying flat-out) that spam filter vendors lie to the press, and the press (including Slashdot) eat it up like candy. This isn't the first and won't be the last "product placement" Slashdot article.
    • Well, let's put it like this. If Joe Sucker is stupid enough to click on spam, what would his motivation be?

      A) spam promising to sell you something (viagra, shares, etc): if you don't intend to buy that, no point in clicking on the link at all.

      B) spam promising free porn: well, it might actually have some free pics. You can always close the window later if they start asking for your credit card, email address, etc.

      So basically I suspect there's a massive difference in what kind of users they get there. For
  • I hope timothy [monkey.org] creates a backslash [slashdot.org] article on /. for this one! So we can talk about it twice [slashdot.org]!
    • Hopefully, after that, there will be a new "RehashSlash" section, to discuss all the comments in the "BackSlash".
      • Yesterday an anonymous reader submitted an Arousing article discussing a little known fact that Pron is actually the most effective form of spam in your inbox! I for one was amazed at this revelation, and so were several other /. users Similar to the number of spam emails you receive in a Yahoo! account per hour, there were over 100+ comments posted.

        Some were funny...

        I prefer the Combo ads, where it tries to sell you Viagra and shows you pictures of who you could use it on. - neonprimetime
        Snake oil

  • by oahazmatt (868057) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:05AM (#15666689) Journal
    In a word... "duh".

    What is going to grab anyone's attention more? "We ship quadraphexametaline to your door for a flat rate of $9.99 - click here to order" or "18 year old Mariana Gottemoff does immoral things with a bearclaw - click here to view"
    • No, no. This is the Internet. The proper word is "ORLY?".
    • What is going to grab anyone's attention more? "We ship quadraphexametaline to your door for a flat rate of $9.99 - click here to order"

      Clearly, they're missing out on something here. They need shorter brand names to use instead of chemical names. Like "Roofies" or "Crystal Meth".

      That would sell for sure. :)
    • "18 year old Mariana Gottemoff does immoral things with a bearclaw - click here to view"

      Actually, it kind of depends on the bearclaw.

      Animal or Pastry?
    • What is going to grab anyone's attention more? "We ship quadraphexametaline to your door for a flat rate of $9.99 - click here to order" or "18 year old Mariana Gottemoff does immoral things with a bearclaw - click here to view" Depends what you mean by bearclaw. Do you mean the donut or the toenail of a large mammal?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:06AM (#15666693)

    simply filter the $ symbol, i did this at home and spam disappeared overnight never to return and as my company has no dealings with anyone using that currency it didnt stop any legit mail from getting through

    now if only Gmail would let me do the same we will be onto a winner
    • I wish gmail would let you block foreign languages. I get a lot of chinese and korean spam and even if it wasn't spam i wouldn't be able to read it.

      However, these filters are really unfortunate for people who do work in things like the mortgage business... they have lots of problems with spam filters catching their email.
  • by CPT Carl (222361) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:06AM (#15666694)
    I've gone blind and can't see my monitor. Plus my palm is too hairy to click the mouse.

    Its not just the spam, dial my sig...

  • by joshv (13017) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:09AM (#15666710)
    I must be too old, all I get are c 1 a l a s and v 1 @ g r 4 SPAM. Perhaps if I bought some, then I'd start getting porn spam so I could put my prescription to good use...
  • by dema (103780) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:09AM (#15666712) Homepage
    I have one email address that gets tons of spam everyday, here's a nice random grab (:

    From: "Lauren Tom"
    Subject: New and hot ladybo y see all of them
    Date: Wed, July 5, 2006 11:28 pm

    Hot and new s h e m a l e Recently added p
    o r n Modern girls like to grant their wish with enormous frankfurters they have
    rush inside and enjoy http://www.asianlb.com/ [asianlb.com] This woman has very huge bolt in her
    pants She has knob under her dress and knows how to use it correctly
    These exceptional ladies will bring Inimitable amusement for all who visits them
    Keen scenes of ladyboys who divert near you are the best to observe
  • Key line from TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:11AM (#15666724) Homepage Journal
    Mr. deSouza pointed out that many spammers work on contract for other people's businesses. "If you're contracted by a company that sells watches or drugs, you might be perfectly happy spamming about watches or drugs," he said.

    Very true, and this is why I've said for a long time that if we ever want to do anything about spam, there's a way to do it without infringing on anyone's freedom of speech: follow the money. You have the right to send any e-mail you want, including spam, and that's the way it should be. You do not have the right to commit other crimes -- e.g. fraud, practicing medicine without a license, etc. -- just because it's "DIFFERENT, this is on the INTERNET." Go after the people who are paying the bills, and most of the "spam kings" will find themselves out of business in short order.
    • by djmurdoch (306849)
      You have the right to send any e-mail you want, including spam, and that's the way it should be.

      No, you don't have that right, and you shouldn't. It's my mailbox, and you can't use it without my permission.

      Go after the people who are paying the bills, and most of the "spam kings" will find themselves out of business in short order.

      In your world, where everyone has a right to put something in my mailbox, you'll just start getting mainstream ads instead of scams. I don't want to live in that world.
      • by nacturation (646836) <nacturation@@@gmail...com> on Thursday July 06, 2006 @10:32AM (#15667316) Journal
        No, you don't have that right, and you shouldn't. It's my mailbox, and you can't use it without my permission.

        If your MTA implements the SMTP protocol, then you've already given your permission. If you want it to be permissions-based, then don't support SMTP... use some other protocol which requires prior authentication. You're saying the equivalent of "they're my ears... you can't make any sounds towards me without my permission".
         
        • Having an MX record published in the DNS and having a machine listening on port 25 for SMTP does not mean that the owner of that system doesn't have the right to control the usage of that machine. I put a "no UCE" comment in my SMTP banners and make reference to an acceptable-use policy.

          The problem isn't that this isn't legally enforcable-- it is-- but that the amount of time and effort required to gain a judgement against an individual spammer is generally prohibitive, so I've gotten a lot more mileage fr
  • No just sex (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wbean (222522) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:11AM (#15666725)
    Certainly sex has been at the heart of a lot of new industries -- Polaroid cameras, VCRs, Internet, camcorders but it isn't the only common thread shared by the spam in my 'junk' mailbox. Almost all of the offers are either illegal or of dubious legality. Fake Rolex watches, under-the-counter drugs, porn, financial scams. The thing that they all have in common is that they cannot advertise through legitimate channels. Spam is the electronic eqivalent of the guy in the trench coat hanging out in the dark alley who makes a furtive offer under his breath as you walk by.
  • Basic Human Needs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aymanh (892834) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:12AM (#15666728) Journal
    Porn spam is common and effective because sex is one of the basic human needs [wikipedia.org], so it's natural that more people are attracted to porn spam than Rolex watches for example. This is what first came to my mind when I read the title, and it turned out the article revolves around this idea.

    The article requires login by the way, and BugMeNot [bugmenot.com] comes to the rescue.
    • I don't know that porn spam is all that common. Thanks to someone deciding to use my domain in their forged From: headers, I now get a couple of thousand spams per day. I don't read through them all (of course!), but the majority are for fake Rolex watches and similar, medication, home loans and degrees. I can only remember ever getting a very small handful of porn spams (less than a dozen).

      Of course, YMMV.
      • Consider yourself lucky. I used a throwaway Yahoo Mail account to register with a questionable web site. Ever since, I've been bombarded with porn spam, every day. They also ignore all unsubscribe requests, even though they claim to honor them and obey all laws on bulk email.
  • Which would you click?

    A man showing off his muscles with a shrunken dick in a 'ball-squizer' advertizing a big bottle with pills, or, spread leggs.
  • by celotil (972236) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:12AM (#15666731) Homepage

    Paul Judge offered the following towards an explanation: 'If you look at some of the oldest and most successful forms of business on earth, they revolve around sex.'"

    Well, duh . :)

    Look at how we were put together. Whether you're a Christian - "Go forth and multiply" - or simply following simple biological design, we were born to breed, all life is.

    Using porn - the modern, supposedly "illicit" form of personal pleasure that doesn't involve the use of exterior drugs (not produced by the body) - marketing appeals to our basest instincts. How could it go wrong?

  • Porn vs. Medicines (Score:2, Interesting)

    by acoster (812556)
    They also forgot to consider a few points: 1. Someone who wants prescription drugs will either buy on a pharmacy (usually cheaper), or probably ask someone they know before taking into account that weird email that sells X4N4*, z0l0f7 and other medicines. 2. Most people tend to ignore those spams (from pharmacies), as most of the people don't care about that, whereas when it comes to porn, well, one always get a freebie on the website... and everybody loves porn ;)
  • by krell (896769) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:14AM (#15666746) Journal
    From the looks of it, porn spam news items on Slashdot are a lot more successful than medical spam news items.
  • A very simple reason (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:17AM (#15666768)
    With naked boobies, you can send a sample. Most people are already quite happy to LOOK at some of those milk bars, they needn't swallow to enjoy it.

    It's different with pharmacies.

    And, don't forget, there's always the hope that you might get free pr0n. Maybe just one or two pics, but hey! Free v14gr4, that's unheard of. Not even a pill.

    Not that I'd need it, I just recently enhanced my malehood! I got a new sports car...
    • "they needn't swallow to enjoy it."

      She'd better swallow if I'm going to enjoy it.

      /couldn't resist
      //there is no 'she' who will be doing any swallowing with me
      ///are you really that surprised?

  • by TomTraynor (82129) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:19AM (#15666777) Homepage
    I have been keeping tally on one of my 'freebie' accounts since June last year.

    2005:
        Porn = 651
        Legit = 1,017
        Spam = 302
        Phishing = 59

    So for for 2006:
        Porn = 1,587
        Legit = 870
        Spam = 1,713
        Phishing = 74

  • Gasp! (Score:3, Funny)

    by spykemail (983593) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:19AM (#15666783) Homepage
    What? The internet is for porn? Say it ain't so!

    Seriously, it's all people think about, though perhaps not actively. Sure we love technology, but even when I'm using Mac OS X every few seconds my brain strays to thoughts like "I wish I knew a beatiful woman who uses Mac OS X" or "wow, some naked female professional tennis players could really spruce up the next OS X commercial."
  • what if?? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by westfalen (169035)
    hmm, maybe the click rates would be higher if the drug ads offered free porn if you went to their website?

    in any case this article is really missing the point - people just don't buy drugs over the internet - duh! drugs from an unknown source can be deadly, whereas porn is harmless and a relatively established internet business.
  • porn spam is 280 times more effective than spam advertising pharmacy drugs
    I click on zero drug spams, and 280 times as much on porn spam. Who on earth falls for spam?! Don't they (the spams) shout "I will fool you!" high enough?
  • I don't remember the last time I got spam... Yup, couple of weeks ago. It's hardly the problem it was.

     
  • Apparently the spammers figure I'm blind or something (maybe from all the porn they think they sold me in the past?), because I'm getting more ringtone spam than anything else lately.
  • Who told them I can't get it up and I'm underendowed?
  • by andrewman327 (635952) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @09:42AM (#15666932) Homepage Journal
    There is a gigantic risk when ordering pharmaceuticals over the Internet without the aid of doctors of pharmacists. You could easily end up with a pill that does nothing whatsoever or worse. Expired or fake drugs could cause serious injury or death. There is not that risk with online pr0n. People screw up their computers badly on some of these websites with spyware, but they generally live to tell about it unless the wife walks in.


    Disclosure: I am currently employed by a pharmaceutical company, but my low opinion of buying drugs through spam pre-dates my employment.

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  • As far as volume, my yahoo account got on someone's list and I get 3 or 4 e-mails a day for various "Vouchers" (This WAS a low-spam account, until I joined a few linux mailing groups). If half the vouchers were real I'd have so much free crap I wouldn't know what to do with it. Coach handbags, United airlines tickets, Pizza-hut, and about a dozen or so other brands. No porn though that I've noticed.

    My hotmail account on which the spam filter used to work really nicely and send everything to junk, has recent
  • by theonetruekeebler (60888) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @10:04AM (#15667108) Homepage Journal
    I'm trying to figure out the balance here: All spammers ever offer me is porn and penis enlargement pills. What I want to know is, if all I'm doing is jacking off to porn, why the hell does it matter how big it is?
  • porn spam is 280 times more effective than spam advertising pharmacy drugs...If you look at some of the oldest and most successful forms of business on earth, they revolve around sex.'"

    But doesn't Viagra also revolve around sex?

  • The article linked to tells us how the click-trough ratios differ for three different types of spam. Fine.

    But how does the /. abstract arrive at the conclusion that this clicktrough rate determines what type of spam you get?
    This is unclear to me.

    Will I get more porn spam, because that spam is more successful? Or will I get more rolex advertisements, because that has a lower clickthrough ratio and thus needs more spam messages to arrive at the same shop turnover?
  • Ric? (Score:2, Funny)

    by cashman73 (855518)
    Ric Romero? Is that you?
  • by macthulhu (603399) on Thursday July 06, 2006 @12:14PM (#15668228)
    Let's face it... It's a visual medium. If Nigerian scam artists were hotter, and included photos, they'd probably get more traffic, and make more money.
  • The third most successful variety is spam advertising Rolex watches, 0.0075 percent of which get clicked on,

    Wow, so many naive users out there.

One of the chief duties of the mathematician in acting as an advisor... is to discourage... from expecting too much from mathematics. -- N. Wiener

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