The Sleazy Business Of Adware

from the sneakily-profitable dept

Business Week is running some stories looking at the business side of the adware world, where Claria and WhenU are making lots of money. The article is fairly balanced in pointing out how angry people are about the way in which these products get installed. Claria defends themselves by showing studies saying that most people who have Gator on their computer know they have it. That’s misleading (how typical…) because, just the fact that anyone doesn’t realize how they got a program on their computer should be a warning sign that something is wrong. Even worse (much, much worse, actually) is that for all those people who “know” they have Gator on their machine, most don’t realize what it actually does — and when they find out, they want it off. Once again, the problem isn’t in what Gator does, so much as how it gets installed and how sneaky they are about admitting what it does. Meanwhile, it’s also quite telling that almost none of Gator’s advertisers were willing to talk to Business Week about the experience — showing how risky they know it is to be associated with the company. The article does mention, however, that a fairly large percentage of Gator revenue comes from a partnership with Yahoo. No wonder Yahoo’s overhyped anti-spyware technology doesn’t remove Gator. The Business Week piece also includes a sidebar talking to an investor considering whether or not to buy into the Claria IPO, comparing it to Napster: saying both are companies that look good on paper, but risk being shut down by legal problems. There’s one huge difference: the people who used Napster wanted to use it. If you’re going to invest in a company, doesn’t it make sense to focus on one that has people who like using it, rather than ones whose users can’t figure out why it’s ruining their computing experience?

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Comments on “The Sleazy Business Of Adware”

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hanzie says:

"they know they have it"?!

Also, why does it matter wether the majority of users know they have it? If I create an annoying computer virus that turns all your fonts into Egyptian hieroglyphics and constantly displays the message “Hi, I’m an annoying virus that made every text on your pc illegible”, then you can be damn sure that everyone will know when they have it.
That doesn’t prove they want it, just that they don’t know how to get rid of it!

Russell Buckley (user link) says:


I wish some kind soul would provide an online list of all companies using this filth. Then we, as consumers, could write to these companies and boycott their products, until they stop.

I’m actually a marketing guy myself and embarassed to be apparently in the same profession. But using spyware is shit-for-brains marketing and any company using spyware to advertise has a total lack of respect for its customers. Which means they will ultimately fail.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hopefully some help ...

( These are cut & paste’s from several different sites and list just a few of the over 1,000 companies that either knowingly or unknowingly use spyware to advertise )

According to the company, its direct and indirect customers in 2003 include about 425 advertisers. Cendant Corp.,, Netflix and Orbitz are among them.

Few companies have done more to prop up the adware industry than Yahoo. A deal with Claria enables Yahoo to push its search-related ads to millions of users — even when they’re typing key words into a rival’s search engine.

L.L. Bean filed suits against companies who advertise on Claria, including Nordstrom, JC Penney, Atkins Nutritionals and Gevalia Kaffee, a division of Kraft Foods.

GAIN Publishing, Inc.
2000 Bridge Parkway, Suite 100
Redwood City, CA 94065
fax 650-232-0400

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