Marketer on Marketer crime

I have a strong distrust of most marketing and sales individuals. I hate evaluating software and getting a dozen calls or emails from some overzealous, inside-sales weenie. For this reason, I usually use bogus information when I fill out the obligatory form requesting the software that I want to play with. Lately, a lot more companies have been ignoring my queries for eval software. While I’m pleased to not be receiving calls or emails, I would appreciate the actual software. Today, while waiting (not too patiently) for my link to come through, I went through the email looking for some clue as to why I wasn’t selected to play with their software. In the HTML, I note a line like this (obfuscated somewhat and using ‘(‘ and ‘)’ instead of angle brackets).

(IMG xsrc=”

&_esniff=true” HEIGHT=”1″ WIDTH=”1″)

What’s that? Why is HEIGHT and WIDTH equal to 1? How will I ever see that?

So, the natural next question is: What happens when the web browser (or email client) requests that image. Well, it turns out it’s not a real image. It’s size is 0 bytes and the error code is “204 NoContent”.

I add a single quote to the abcdefghijklmnopqrstuv string. Now, I’m getting an error message like:

“MarketFirst encountered an error while processing your request.”

So, what’s the deal with that little, bitty image? Well, it turns out that I’m not supposed to see that little, bitty image. That little snippet is part of a marketing software (MarketFirst) which tracks when and where the email is opened (ooooh, I am *so* hating marketing guys right now).

To see other companies using the marketfirst software, google:
MarketFirst error inurl:”/mk/”

Even more fun, google:
MarketFirst inurl:”/mk/” ODBC error

Wanna try it yourself. Check out:

You’ll even get your own email which tracks back to their database…call it marketer on marketer crime.

Now, if I could just get a MarketFirst demo evaluation ;)


P.S. and here’s how to bypass marketer profiling and get your software downloads. Open the email in plain text (it’s MIME encoded). Convert it to HTML text. Post the HTML on some web site. Now, call your buddy at a Fortune50 company and have him/her click the link. I bet you get the download now.

P.S.S Even more fun….embed the HTML in an email to some user at the same company where you are requesting the download :)

  • Sanjay

    Every CRM / web based enterprise software have this functionality. What is the crime in knowing if a recepient of email I send out opened it or not?

    Do you know Google knows and keep track of the search queries you made from a computer? Do you know that on Gmail, depending on the content of your private email, they show targeted ads on side?

    This is nothing new.