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Discovering Trusted Emailing

by: Susan Esparza, November 2005

One of the most frustrating tasks of everyday is opening your email and seeing the spam offers roll in. Cheap software, trips to nowhere, diplomas from the University of Some Guy's Backyard, they get caught and, hopefully, sorted out. But that doesn't mean you're free from having to look at them. No, spam filters are inaccurate and overzealous at best so there is still the need to check your junk mail folder to be sure that nothing you needed to see got thrown away. Wouldn't it be nice to have every email you get be secure, verified and certified? Those are the goals of the 1st Certified email system.

1st Certified is an email certification system. It is free to download and integrates with Outlook. 1st Certified aims to verify both sender and receiver so as to increase security and reduce spam. When both the sender and the receiver are using the 1st Certified system, messages are encrypted based on the MAC address. Messages received from certified senders are sorted into a separate folder, eliminating phishing entirely.

1st Certified is supported by advertising. While recent studies have shown that search is increasing in popularity, email is still the number one use for the internet. That is why spammers continue to send out email. But with 1st Certified, spam is eliminated. Advertiser participation is ruled like this: a new 1st Certified user fills out a profile with her interests which puts her on interests lists available to advertisers. The system is similar to a pay per click model. Advertisers define a budget and select a list they would like to send their offers. Each email costs a small fee to send out and if it receives a clickthrough, increments another slightly larger fee.

However, the advertiser never receives the email addresses of the recipients and the recipient never receives more than 5 certified merchant emails on a single day. Additionally, an advertiser never gets billed more than once for a click from any machine and no machine can generate more than 5 clicks a day. At those rates, click fraud is hardly a concern and it's a lot more trouble than it's worth.

What's more, detailed reporting is available to the advertiser so they can track exactly how effective a particular campaign is while still preserving the anonymity of the user. Advertisers can see exactly the date and time of each click and track their ROI and conversion rate precisely.

1st Certified promises several other exciting features such as iCards which would work very similarly to electronic business cards but with extensive customizability and the ability to imbed a 30 second video. Each machine is allotted two iCards to start but 10 more can be added for $9.95. iCards can be set to expire--imagine a realtor having a card for each property with an attached video walkthrough and that card expiring as each house sells.

Because of the user profiles, 1st Certified works as a geotargeted search engine, allowing advertisers and users to connect in the most relevant fashion. Additionally, advertisers can create vanishing coupons which will disappear from the certified merchant folder when they are no longer valid. No work on the user's part at all.

What really makes 1st Certified special, as opposed to just different, is the last aspect of their mission. 20% of the revenue goes directly to the charity of the user's choice. Any bona fide charitable organization can be designated. From large international organizations like the Red Cross to smaller hometown causes, users can support the charity of their choice with every click on the certified merchants' offers.

1st Certified is currently in final stage product review and will soon be available for free download at