The biggest problem with spam, perhaps, is that recipients actually read unsolicited ads and act on them. According to recent research, 14 percent of users read spam and 4 percent actually bought something. Rockbridge Associates and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland released the report -- entitled "National Technology Readiness Survey" -- last week.
What's wrong with that statement? Not that I'm a big fan of spam, mind you, but can you imagine someone making a similar statement about TV ads? "The biggest problem with these obnoxious interruptions is that people actually remember them, and sometimes even discuss them the next day at work. Even worse, some people actually buy the products being advertised!"
If people are buying what's being sold in "spam" then why is it not "advertising?" Unsolicited, true, but how much of advertising is solicited? I think the problem isn't going to get any better until we have a more intelligent way of talking about this stuff. Lumping all commercial email together and saying it is bad because it isn't something you personally were looking to get just makes it harder to talk about reasonable access to markets for advertisers. It makes it harder to look at email marketing in the context of all direct marketing and decide how it should properly fit in.