Everyone Gets Spam, But How Much Money are Spammers Really Making and How Much is it Costing You?

Anyone who uses the internet is familiar with internet spam, and we are all accustom to the regular spam emails that make their way to your inbox hopefully not too often. But how much money could these spammers and spam-advertised merchants make, more importantly how much is it really costing society?

According to a report from Justin Rao of Microsoft and David Reiley of Google these spammers are costing society a total of $20 billion while gaining a mere $200 million in combined revenue per year. The “externality ratio” of external costs to internal benefits for spam is around 100:1. This is very sad to see how much companies are spending trying to prevent spam it still seems to find a way to prevail.

Rao and Reiley say that even if only 1 out every 25,000 people who receive spam advertising were to buy something, it would still be profitable for spammers due to cheap operating costs. The only way to prevent spam is to find a way to raise the cost of spam to the point where the spamming business is no longer profitable, according to the researchers.

“We advocate supplementing current technological anti-spam efforts with lower-level economic interventions at key choke points in the spam supply chain, such as legal intervention in payment processing, or even spam-the-spammers tactics,” the pair wrote. “By raising spam merchants’ operating costs, such countermeasures could cause many campaigns no longer to be profitable at the current marginal price of $20-50 per million emails.”


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