The assignee for this patent application, patent application serial number 759185, is PowerInbox.
Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Web analytics tools are used to track user behavior while browsing the web, in order to assess and improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and conversion from the initial interaction stages up to completing a transaction.
"There are commercial tools (such as Google Analytics, Yahoo Web Analytics) that let a website owner track user behavior by inserting HTML directives and including scripts in the website pages. These tools provide valuable insight to user interaction as he/she navigates the website, and they offer a variety of reporting and analysis tools.
"Electronic messaging, such as e-mails, instant messaging, web based messaging services and SMS are widely used for communicating information between senders and recipients. Many commercial senders use messaging to send offers of their products, update their client base with news, and generally for 'keeping in touch' with their clients.
"For those senders, it is critically important to know how many recipients have viewed a message and have interacted with it--for the same reasons it is important to know the recipient's behavior in the sender's website.
"However, since almost all webmail providers and client messaging applications block elements such as scripts and similar executable objects that are included in a message it is not possible to use current website analytical tools within a message.
"Furthermore, typical website analytics tools use HTTP cookies to identify a specific user between website visits. Cookies are accessible only when the user navigates within the domain of the sender and therefore are not accessible when the user (the recipient of an e-mail message) is in the webmail provider domain.
"A common workaround for e-mails is to include within the message an HTML IMG tag with a URL that includes specific message or campaign identification. When the recipient's e-mail reader tries to fetch the image data, the server to which the URL points records those parameters in a database. This serves as a confirmation that the recipient has opened the message, but it is not a complete solution to the problem. First, most webmails and mail clients do not download images referenced in a message by default, but require the recipient to authorize such operation. This means that the information is incomplete--recipients reading the message without downloading images are not counted in compiling the statistics. Second, there is no way to know how much time the recipient spent reading the message--for example, did the reader spend time reading the contents, or just delete the message right away?
"To track recipient behavior within the e-mail message, a typical practice is to track each click on a link by recording the operation on the server to which the link points. The link may in fact point to an intermediate server (provided perhaps by a mass e-mailing company) that records the recipient's click and then redirects the recipient's e-mail reader to the actual content residing on the sender's website.
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