The Company That Spyware Built
from the try,-try-again dept
Claria is still trying to refine its image and its business model. A year and a half ago they started threatening anyone who called their software spyware and then changed their name to Claria to avoid the negative stigma associated with the Gator name. While they tried and failed to go public last year, they're still trying to clean up their image. This would be a good thing, as their image needs cleaning up... except it still seems somewhat sketchy. They're outlining a detailed plan to basically do targeted advertising arbitrage. Here's how the plan works: they buy super super cheap run of site leftover ad inventory from large publishers for next to nothing. Then, they turn around and resell that ad space as much more costly, highly targeted ad space, and clean up on the difference. How can they do this? Well, thanks to the fact that their application is already installed on so many computers, they have all this data about how and where people surf. This is the part that the article sort of glosses over. Because they've been able to get this... hmm... let's call it "monitorware" on so many computers (often without the owners of said computers knowing about it), they're in a position to do this. So, this isn't so much "cleaning up their act," as leveraging their past misdeeds (installing an app that records what you do and sends it back to their servers without adequately revealing to the end user what was happening) to make themselves look like a more legitimate business. That, in some ways, seems much, much worse. In the past, attempts at similar offerings have met with outrage from users who don't feel comfortable being targeted in this manner. It's not clear why Claria thinks it'll be fine this time.