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Blue Sky Factory: How to Prepare for Email Marketing’s Biggest Challenge Ever: Facebook Project Titan

Blue Sky Factory: How to Prepare for Email Marketing’s Biggest Challenge Ever: Facebook Project Titan

How to Prepare for Email Marketing’s Biggest Challenge Ever: Facebook Project Titan

How to Prepare for Email Marketing’s Biggest Challenge Ever: Facebook Project Titan

Source: Blue Sky Factory
by Christopher Penn

Originally posted Feb 15th, 2010

Are you ready for Project Titan?

Facebook, the largest social network in existence (400 million users and growing) is growing its own email system, codenamed Project Titan. Details are a little thin, but articles from Techcrunch and other sites on the Web indicate that Facebook’s mail system is going to be an actual, standards-compliant mail system with POP3/IMAP and SMTP with users getting an @facebook.com address.

Here’s the zinger: if Project Titan is adopted by its userbase, it’s going to absolutely devastate your current email marketing efforts. Deliverability will go out the window. Open rates will drop to near zero. Your email won’t even get to users, much less get read.


Simple: Facebook will throw out the book on email deliverability because it will likely be the first mass-user email platform that is whitelist-based. In other words, you will NOT be able to send to a user unless they have given you explicit permission to do so.

This is already baked into Facebook. Messaging and privacy are very limited on Facebook. Brands and companies have to resort to Fan Pages and pay per click advertising to gain any leverage among the user base. A Facebook email system is likely to verify that you, the sender, are friends with the recipient before allowing your message to even show up in their inbox.

Email Marketing Industry: Let’s relax before crowning Facebook’s Project Titan as king

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Your thoughts here
  1. I agree that this is a new hurdle for eMail marketing. For example if I were to opt-in to a company’s email campaign how is Facebook going to know this? This is a pretty serious issue for marketers, as their current opt-in list may not even receive emails.

  2. Those are all fine questions and are certainly interesting, but Im totally not seeing “the end of marketing email” either…

  3. Facebook’s strategy is likely to be two things:

    1. Opaque. Virtually every other ISP on the planet participates in industry groups like MAAWG that help ESPs, marketers, and ISPs work together for delivery. Facebook doesn’t have a great track record on either transparency or collaboration.

    2. Overly strict. Permission-based is indeed the drum we’ve been beating, but if Facebook implements its privacy settings that it currently uses, you won’t get through if there’s even a slight variance in your outbound mail. Facebook requires a connection in place already to send messages internally. So for example, let’s say you connected with me on Facebook as anna[@]annalivia.com but sent me a message from info[@]annalivia.com with a newsletter I wanted. In our current model, the newsletter gets through. In the Facebook model, it doesn’t get through because it’s not an exact match for the friend connection.

  4. Im confused. Isn’t email marketing all about permission? Haven’t we all been pounding the permission drum for years? Why is this such a horror if marketers are actually sending permission based mail as they all insist that they already do?

    • I see your point Annalivia, but I believe the concern some have is who is doing the whitelisting. Is Facebook going to be any more arbitrary than any current whitelisting? One would hope at the least the very nature of a social network such as Facebook should hold them to a reasonable level of accountability.

      This is going to get very interesting.


      Jim Ducharme
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