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Apple Steps Up Targeted e-Mail Campaign to iTunes Users

TMO Reports - Apple Steps Up Targeted e-Mail Campaign to iTunes Users

by , 10:00 AM EDT, May 12th, 2005

Apple Computer has begun to escalate its campaign of sending targeted e-mail to users of its online iTunes Music Store (iTMS), suggesting different types of music and updating users on new albums from previously bought artists.

The marketing ploy has increased in its intensity over the past few weeks, based upon responses from readers of The Mac Observer. Some readers have reported they have been receiving e-mails for over a month now reminding ITMS users of certain albums they have bought in the past and a 'heads up' that the same group has released new music. It appears only recently some users have begun receiving e-mails suggesting different artists based on previous purchases.

"Because you've downloaded music from iTunes in the past, we thought you'd like to know about their new album," one e-mail from Apple suggested to a TMO reader.

The suggestive selling has long been a favorite of Amazon.com and Netflix.com. The process is known as “collaborative filtering”, where purchase histories are analyzed to determine what else is likely to interest the buyer of a particular product. This approach allows users to navigate from hits that they know they like to more obscure titles they might never have thought of or heard of.

Netflix began the trend by cross referencing a consumers list of favorite movies with other customers to make movie recommendations. Customers then choose movies that have never seen before and Netflix ships the DVD to the customer using its advanced logistics system.

It appears Apple is at least beginning to do very much the same thing as Netflix in leveraging its library of 1.5 million songs to better sell music that might not otherwise be of interest to people who don't often browse or even search its extensive collection.


Some iTMS users have begun to receive suggestive e-mails, recommending they inquire about certain music.

"Netflix’s most valuable asset is not their million strong customer marketing list but rather its detailed understanding of their users' tastes and preferences which allows it to make incisive recommendations of related movie titles," said Australian-based media strategist Mike Walsh. "When you consider the huge number of titles already on DVD, and add that to the explosion in content which will become available when the world’s libraries of movie and television content are digitised and placed online – a reliable recommendation engine based on a large sample of customer interactions will be a powerful barrier to entry to new players."

"There's going to be a growing need for entertainment-oriented search technology and for personalization and recommendations," said Michael Ramsay, CEO and chairman of TiVo. "If you like this, you're going to like that."

An Apple spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

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