NEW YORK – September 30, 2014 – Return Path announced today that it has been awarded a patent for measuring inbox placement–the percentage of email messages delivered to addressees’ inboxes vs. delivered to spam folders or not delivered at all. U.S. Patent #8,719,356 B2 was issued for incorporating multiple data sources into a method and system for monitoring the deliverability of email–also known as inbox placement–and specifically for determining how each is applied to measure inbox placement rates (IPR).
Inbox placement is critical to the success of all companies that rely on email to deliver marketing messages, account and transactional information, news, and other content. Return Path found in a recent study of nearly 500 million messages that 17 percent of all permissioned commercial email–one message in six–failed to reach addressees’ inboxes worldwide. Most of these misdirected messages are diverted by filters applied by mailbox providers like Google’s Gmail, Microsoft’s Outlook.com, and Yahoo! to keep spam out of their users’ inboxes. By combining inbox placement data from seeds (monitored email accounts) and from a representative sample of actual consumers’ inboxes, Return Path’s patented technology offers the most accurate possible view of email marketing deliverability.
Multiple data sources have become necessary for accurate inbox placement measurement because mailbox providers increasingly rely on users’ behavior or engagement with messages to make filtering decisions. This makes seed data–which is based on machine-monitored addresses included in senders’ email campaigns–increasingly unreliable because seed accounts don’t behave like users; they never engage with messages. Consumer data on the other hand is based on real users’ behavior, showing how a representative sample of consumers engage with email; but consumer data can’t accurately track messages that go undelivered. Because of these limitations the most reliable assessment of inbox placement requires not only a combination of seed and consumer data, but a systematic determination of how to apply these data sources to produce a clear measurement of email deliverability — the innovation for which Return Path won this patent.
“Return Path technology is already playing a critical role in improving and protecting big brands’ email marketing programs. Winning a patent for our innovation reinforces how ground-breaking and essential it is, especially as so many commercial senders struggle to reach the inbox consistently,” said George Bilbrey, president of Return Path. “We continue to develop our solution to give our clients the clearest, most accurate view of their inbox placement available, and to help them keep pace with the shifting deliverability landscape.”
Bilbrey introduced inbox placement measurement with the founding of Assurance Systems twelve years ago this fall, developing the technology that formed the core of Return Path’s deliverability solutions. Under his leadership Return Path has pioneered the advance of email analytics, winning eight additional patents and building a global network of mailbox providers, security specialists, and marketers that work collaboratively to reduce spam and email abuse to maintain consumer trust in the email channel.
Return Path provides consumer intelligence that keeps brands connected to their audiences. We analyze the world’s largest collection of email data to show senders how to strengthen their customer engagement and protect their brands from fraud. Mailbox providers around the world use our technology to build trust in email by ensuring that wanted messages reach the inbox while spam and abuse don’t. Consumers use our apps to manage their inboxes and make email work better for them. Find out more about us at returnpath.com.