AOL CertifiedEmail Is Not E-mail Postage

AOL is not charging postage for e-mail.

There's been a lot of misinformation about that point in the past week, as a result of competitors' intentional misrepresentation, AOL's missteps in talking about its plans, and -- dare I say it -- misunderstandings of journalists.

The implementation of Goodmail's CertifiedEmail announced last week is a paid service that provides additional benefits to senders, like automatic display of images and links, adding a "trust symbol" to the message in the user's inbox, bypassing content and volume filters for guaranteed inbox delivery, and enhanced reporting.

An e-mail from a legitimate sender, who follows best e-mail practices for permission and list maintenance, will not need to pay to have their messages delivered. What they will have to pay for is those added features.

While many news stories get the facts right, they still mislead with headlines screaming about e-mail postage. The same thing happens when Goodmail's competitors, and their customers and investors, blog about it, or get the attention of a harried journalist with their version of the story.

Adding to the confusion, AOL changed its plans in mid-stream, first announcing that their enhanced whitelist would be discontinued by the end of June, and then backpedaling and saying that was only one of many possibilities.

The official stance from AOL is that the enhanced whitelist will continue to be maintained for as long as it makes sense to senders and AOL members -- but they still think their new CertifiedEmail program is going to emerge as the best choice.

About the author

Kevin Newcomb joined ClickZ in August 2004, covering search marketing and other online marketing topics. He has been reporting on web-based businesses since 2000.

Before the bubble burst, Kevin was a marketing manager for an online computer reseller, handling copywriting, e-mail marketing, search marketing and running the affiliate program.

With a combination of real-world marketing experience and years of business journalism, Kevin brings to ClickZ a unique ability to deliver news and training materials that help online marketers do their jobs better.