Starting in June, AOL will charge a fee to guarantee that emails sent to users in their system will wind up in the recipient's Inbox. This is accomplished through a participation in a third-party program called Goodmail that certifies you as a "good" sender and allows you to bypass AOL's spam-prevention filters. Yahoo! is expected to follow down the same path soon.
If I am reading the tea leaves correctly, e-mails from companies not participating in the Goodmail program will be shunted to the Junk folder. It is unclear if a user can 'whitelist' a sender to receive legitimate, solicited e-mail such as purchase receipts or a newsletter.
While I understand the need to address the problem of spam, my take on this is that this is a form of corporate extortion that will wreak havoc on the system. And AOL users will bear the brunt of the inexorable friction between legitimate companies and spammers.
On the business side, few companies outside the Fortune 500 will participate. Expect to see a flurry of emails from small and mid-sized companies to AOL subscribers reiterating the need to whitelist them.
In addition, AOL customers will see an increased number of legitimate e-mails ending up in the junk mail box. There will be a shake-out and public outcry as AOL users start missing legitimate and critical communications. The system will become unusable and AOL will move onto the Next Big Thing.
All around, all concerned will get mad, and at the end of the day, spammers will just find another way around the problem. And AOL, Yahoo! and Goodmail will make millions in the process. They always do.
AOL E-Mail Best Practices for Corporate Senders: