Remember spam? All those sketchy advertisements for escort services and viagra that would clog up your inbox with their general ickiness until spam filters started getting smart enough to block them? Have you taken the time to look at your spam folder lately?
Once the mode of communication strictly reserved for Nigerian princes, spam seems to have transformed into general advertising. I don’t think that spammers are getting better, I think that regular companies are just getting slummier.
A quick look through my spam folder reveals emails from insurance giant AIG, ads for window replacement, Christian Singles (really Christian Singles? Spam?), LASIK eye surgery, and a whole bevy of stock tips. Spam, not just for tool enlargement anymore!
At this point it feels pretty normal to see friends liking the Facebook page for Windex, or for Subway Sandwiches to show up as a sponsored search result from Google. Practically every webpage you go to has ads. WordPress runs ads right here on my very own blog!! (As should be obvious, that revenue goes to them, not me.) Companies exploit your friendships and gather information on you in ways that would make the NSA blush. They have made themselves as intrusive as possible.
Why WOULD they restrain themselves from sending you direct emails? That’s actually less creepy than a lot of other forms of advertising.