Cost of Spam is Flattening — Our 2009 Predictions

Every year or two, Ferris Research updates its estimates for the total cost of spam. Here are our 2009 estimates:

Worldwide, spam will cost us all $130 billion; in the U.S. alone, $42 billion. That's a 30% increase over our 2007 estimates, which themselves were a 100% increase over our 2005 figures.

So the growth in the cost of spam is slowing down. Why do we think that? Here are the three main reasons (most important first):

  1. Spam levels aren't growing (some sources say they've declined, but this is as a percentage of total email, but total email volumes have grown, so the two facts roughly cancel out).
  2. Spam filters are getting more accurate and more people are using better spam filters (so people need to delete less spam and search for fewer false positives).
  3. Spam filters are less expensive than they were (albeit increasingly purchased in a higher-value bundle of other functionality, including archiving/compliance).

The contribution of each cost component to the total is roughly:

  • User productivity cost (deleting spam, looking for false positives, etc.): 85%
  • Help desk cost (IT helping end users deal with spam): 10%
  • Spam control software/hardware/service (licensing fees, amortized capital costs, etc.): 5%

... Richi Jennings

One Comment

  1. Ruggy
    Posted September 4, 2009 at 7:50 AM | Permalink

    So that’s about $11.67 per month for every man woman and child in the USA. Insane!

  2. Justin Bayard
    Posted May 13, 2011 at 4:49 PM | Permalink

    Hi Richi,

    Could you clarify which growth rates pertain to which numbers? Is the 100% and 30% increase refer tot he US or the Worldwide figure?



  3. Posted May 16, 2011 at 4:10 PM | Permalink

    The worldwide proportion of spam cost that is attributed to the U.S. is essentially unchanged between 2005-2009, so the answer to your question is “both” — i.e., these are worldwide and U.S. figures.

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  1. By The Cost of Spam « Blogstein's Eyes on April 2, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    […] total estimated cost of Spam for 2009 is upwards from $42 billion (Ferris) up 30% since 2007. This cost averages out to just under $1000 per employee per year. Fortunately […]

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