Stupid Media/Research Watch: Newsflash! People Hate Spam

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

We’re having difficulty figuring out who is more stupid, the professor who had to do research to figure out that people dislike spam e-mail more than direct mail, or the trade rags that picked the story up.

A new study by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia found that most people are less irritated by unsolicited direct mail than by spam e-mail.

“Spam is definitely regarded as more annoying, irritating and intrusive than postal direct mail,” said Mariko Morimoto, assistant professor of advertising at Grady College.

A study conducted by Morimoto and co-author Susan Chang found that people find spam more intrusive than direct mail because it makes it harder to get to legitimate and wanted messages, according to the study.

Tossing direct mail, on the other hand, was not perceived as time consuming, according to the study, which is published in the fall issue of the Journal of Interactive Advertising.

Next, the researchers plan to find out which consumers like more: eating meals at gourmet restaurants or being hit by ball pean hammers.

Believe it or not, the worst aspect of this research isn’t that it states the pathetically obvious. Turns out the researchers don’t even know what spam is.

“Despite the negative feelings associated with spam, Morimoto said it can be effective when used properly,” said a release announcing the study. “Her focus group work found that people don’t seem to mind receiving e-mails from companies with which they have previously done business.

“Morimoto, for example, doesn’t mind e-mailed suggestions from Amazon.com based on previous purchases. E-mails that read, ‘Mariko Morimoto, do you need a college degree?” on the other hand, are not welcome.

“‘If you cultivate your relationship with consumers in some other venue and then extend that effort to e-mails, then spam can work,’ she said.”

Of course, when Morimoto says “spam” she means commercial e-mail. Is it too much to ask in academia these days for researchers to have a working knowledge of their subject matter?

However, if this is what passes these days for research in our college mass-communication, journalism and advertising departments, what do you say we all skip lunch and get our Ph.Ds?

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