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EDITORIAL: Reliable Email Verification May Be Gone Forever

Webbula Editorial

From the Desk of Webbula CEO, Vince Cersosimo

I decided to write this column to express my personal concerns regarding what I perceive to be some significant and important issues in our industry. Change is always difficult. It can be challenging to predict and even more challenging to see as it happens around you. Often the dots are not connected in any significant way until it is too late. This is the basis for the thoughts that have built up over the first half of this year and the reason I am writing this column today.

Verizon’s Oath email service, which now owns Yahoo and AOL email services, has certainly made headlines. Changes to privacy policies, service policies, user data, and more have become routine news. To say it has been a complex ride so far would be an understatement. And I’m certain that all of us in the email marketing industry have been keeping a close eye on all of the ongoing developments. Which leads me to my specific cause for concern and the reason I’m writing this column today. If all of us in this industry are indeed keeping a close eye on these ongoing developments – then where is the news regarding Verizon’s changes to email verification?

Despite a few technical posts here and there, the news regarding the ‘off switch’ to email bounce checks that affect all of Yahoo, Verizon, and AOL emails has strangely been missing from the conversation. Others within our industry are clearly hesitant to say publicly what we all know privately. That this is a significant change that could negatively impact all email marketing and data solution providers, especially those offering or relying on bounce checks. Together these changes affect a significant percentage of all consumer email accounts in the United States. This is a large chunk of consumer email that has suddenly gone dark. Or “unknown” or “Accept-All” if you prefer.

This change will eventually have a direct impact on data providers across the board. Industry giants such as, Oracle and SalesForce, service providers such as Return Path, Act-on, MailChimp, and others. But this change crosses all borders and will eventually impact businesses on both the consumer and B2B side of the fence as well. Anyone that relies on email will be impacted. From martech providers like Adobe and Google, to consumer companies such as Amazon and Walmart. From small town to wall street, this issue could have a negative impact up and down the scale.

Verification providers are going to be understandably reluctant to proclaim this fact publicly. I can only guess that they’ve been relying on cached data for months now. Data that is rapidly becoming out-of-date. Every single day that passes means that old data becomes less and less reliable, until it is essentially rendered useless. We’ve heard in the past the refrain that verification may be dying, but from where I’m standing it looks as if we may have already quietly passed that mark.

Since day one Webbula has stood for transparency and truth in data. We’ve always known that simple bounce checks would never be enough, which is why we’ve created, developed, and advocated for a much more robust collection of tools and solutions based around multi-method email hygiene. And while it might be tempting for others to discount my concern as simple aggrandizing – that couldn’t be further from the truth. My primary concern is for our industry at large. In the current environment of constant changes, GDPR, privacy issues, data breaches, and consumer protection, it is more important than ever to adhere to transparency and truth in all we do. I firmly believe that it is time for someone to step up and point out that the emperor has no clothes. Which is why I’d like to challenge those that no longer have any method of verifying Oath controlled email accounts, beyond using purchased and rapidly aging bounce files, to simply own up to it.

Hiding from the truth puts us all at risk,

Vince Cersosimo