"Different embodiments of the present invention cover e-mail readers where the e-mail message is read in an HTML window and where the e-mail reader has an 'e-mail reader module' which includes custom executable code to perform actions as disclosed herein. The term 'e-mail reader module' herein denotes a unit of executable code for execution within the context of an e-mail reader, including, but not limited to the following formats and combinations thereof: executable code built into the e-mail reader; external 'extensions' of executable code; external 'add-ons' of executable code; external 'add-ins' of executable code; and external 'plug-ins' of executable code.
"Some embodiments of the invention insert into an HTML document in the recipient's e-mail reader one or more HTML elements that enable the monitoring, collection, and reporting of data relating to the recipient's interaction with an e-mail message.
"The HTML document in the recipient's e-mail reader in general includes more than just the received e-mail message. Other HTML elements include additional windows and controls (e.g., buttons, drop-down lists, scrolling regions, etc.) for manipulating e-mail messages and performing various actions on lists and folders of e-mail messages. In addition, in general the entire e-mail is not always contained in the HTML; for example, attachments to the e-mail message are not part of the HTML page.
"According to various embodiments of the invention, HTML elements inserted into the HTML document in the e-mail reader include, but are not limited to: a SCRIPT tag; a script; an IFRAME; parameters that reference sender's specific information such as a sender ID within the analytics system, including, but not limited to: a campaign ID; the recipient's e-mail address or ID; a cookie of the website analytics server of the e-mail sender; the recipient's domain; and a sender-specific definition.
"According to one related embodiment, the above HTML elements are inserted within the HTML code of the e-mail message; in another related embodiment, the HTML elements are inserted into other windows, panes, and frames of the HTML code in the e-mail reader. In some embodiments, the inserted HTML code is put into a new window, which is rendered invisible (such as by occupying zero area on the screen). According to another related embodiment the inserted element is an IFRAME element which is invisible to the recipient.
"According to another related embodiment, the IFRAME contains a URL pointing to a website associated with the sender. In still another embodiment, the IFRAME contains a URL listed in the senders list. In yet another embodiment, the IFRAME contains a URL that includes parameters taken from the sender's list and/or the message contents, and/or are derived from the message contents.
"According to additional embodiments, inserted HTML elements are inserted into the same HTML document as that of the message; in other embodiments, HTML elements are inserted into a different HTML document from that of the message.
"In other embodiments of the present invention, insertion of HTML elements is done by a service via which the receiver is reading the messages (such as a webmail service). In further embodiments, insertion of HTML elements is done by an application on a device utilized directly or indirectly by the recipient. Such applications include, but are not limited to: an Internet browser; an e-mail client program; an extension that adds functionality to an application; and a standalone application, applet, or 'app'.
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