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Web traffic: Spam king ousted

Sanford Wallace no longer rules in the online marketing world, according to new Internet traffic figures. And Coolsavings.com cracks the Top 50
Written by Ben Charny, Contributor

Spam king Sanford Wallace has had his ups and downs since going legitimate. He may be down now, but even his opponents say it's too soon to count him out.

The junk emailer and fax king was dethroned more than two years ago, when Congress made junk email illegal, and Wallace was the subject of lawsuits from people so intimidated by his spam that they refused to log on. The Internet bad boy folded Cyber Promotions, and the Internet's leading spammer -- the man who likened himself to radio bad boy Howard Stern -- dropped out of the public eye.

That was until he went legit, launching SmartBotPRO.Net, with its "permission-based email".

Wallace said the company marketed discussion lists and email collection services to companies interested in opt-in marketing. The site was a success, cracking Media Metrix's Top 50 list with 5.2 million unique visitors in January.

But the number of unique visitors has plummeted almost as quickly. In the latest Media Metrix figures, released Thursday, Wallace's site -- with 2.7 million unique visitors -- didn't even crack the Top 100.

Wallace's Web site tells visitors he's no longer taking new accounts. Instead, he's referring business to another company, which says it's not affiliated to SmartBotPRO.Net.

Email and telephone messages seeking Wallace's comments were not returned by deadline.

When he was fighting Wallace, Ray Everett-Church, co-founder of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail, was a bitter enemy. But the latter says he's sorry about Wallace's apparent failure in the legitimate world. On the other hand, Everett-Church added, "If there is anyone who I'd bet on to roar back, it is Sanford Wallace."

Media Metrix Analyst Anne Rickert agreed. "Traffic can be cyclical. In another couple of months, you may see Wallace on the list again," she said.

While Wallace dropped off the charts, Coolsavings.com cracked the Top 50 for the first time since its launch. The site offering free shopping coupons in exchange for user registration information chimed in at number 43, with 5.2 million unique visitors. Also, in June, Media Metrix began rating Web sites by category, such as auction, automotive, business or entertainment, and subcategory.

For example, the retail category is comprised of apparel (led by Victoriasecret.com), computers, department stores and toys.

The leading portal was Yahoo!, with 47.7 million unique visitors. Wellsfargo.com led all banking sites with 1.8 billion unique visitors. Chevrolet was the leading site in the automotive sector.

Take me to the e-commerce special.

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