July 12, 2005 4:00 AM PDT

Adware's second act

(continued from previous page)

mainstream publishers. Kazaa countered that Claria was "not performing" up to agreed standards.

Some large advertisers--an adware company's real customers--have also threatened to pull campaigns if changes aren't made. They pay adware companies to get those ads out to consumers, and they're catching heat for being connected to the practice.

What's more, PC users fear being "infected" by adware and its cousin, spyware, which is designed to steal private information such as credit card numbers. As a result, Web surfers are starting to avoid software downloads altogether, according to a recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. In fact, Pew reported that 21 percent of Web surfers said that they would agree to download adware with adequate disclosure in exchange for other free software they wanted.

Besides avoiding legal entanglements, there's huge potential upside to going legit. Large adware makers are jockeying for a bigger piece of online advertising, which has rebounded in recent years and is expected to net sales between $10 billion and $12 billion this year. Right now researchers estimate that the adware business is worth $500 million annually.

Thanks to their close ties to consumer desktops, some adware execs believe they've cultivated expertise in behavioral advertising, or the practice of watching an individual's surfing patterns and serving them related ads in real time. For example, if a user has visited several car sites in the last two days, the software might display a promotion for Cars.com or the Kelley Blue Book.

That's got the attention of major Internet outfits such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo. The Net giants are laying the foundation for desktop and behavioral advertising, introducing downloadable software for PC and Web search, as well as personalized search engines. Microsoft has been in talks to buy Claria, according to sources, but the software giant reportedly has reservations about an acquisition because of the company's reputation.

Taken together, it's a recipe for change. Since January, in addition to Claria and WhenU, other adware companies, such as 180Solutions and Direct Revenue, have been changing the way they do business.

But some anti-spyware technologists doubt the adware companies will be able to change and still make a go of it.

"We're starting to see adware vendors fall in line with public pressure, but they're also starting to hurt their business model," said Richard Stiennon, vice president of threat research at the anti-spyware company Webroot.

In the first quarter of 2005, the penetration rate of 180Solutions and Claria dropped from 2.6 percent to 2.4 percent of all computers--meaning they lost access to several million PCs, Stiennon said.

Ari Schwartz, the associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, D.C., said the adware companies have to retrace their steps and make amends. Because many people obtained adware on their PC unwittingly, adware makers must return to their customer base to notify them and obtain consent.

"They have to go back and address the issue. They can't just run this on illegitimate means," Schwartz said.

180Solutions, for example, recently sent pop-up alerts to its PC users, notifying them that its software was installed. Schwartz said that for the company to be thorough, however, it should also get their consent to continue running the software.

Claria is attempting a far more ambitious transformation. In addition to cutting--this past February--its license agreement from "Constitution" lengths to 2,500 words, the company is courting major publishers to bundle its ad software with search toolbars, IM clients and other mainstream applications.

WhenU, which has gone the furthest to newly notify consumers of its software downloads, eventually plans to approach mainstream publishers in the same way. But first it will continue to transform the way it co-brands advertisements on its network and be selective about its distribution partners.

WhenU has also had some other good fortune. The company recently won a trademark infringement case brought by 1-800 Contacts, a vision-care company that alleged ads from a rival company sold by WhenU violated its trademark. The case makes it clear that consumers own their desktop and can install whatever software to deliver ads. WhenU raised $15 million in funding in recent weeks.

With upcoming legislation in the works to establish best practices, and more lawsuits likely in the works at Spitzer's office, adware makers of all stripes may have little choice but to make such radical changes.

"It's like if you're on a cliff and a truck is coming toward you and someone hands you a flimsy rope," Dyson said. "It might be risky, but you'd probably take it."

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28 comments

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But, it's my computer.
The problem with the adware scum (sorry, best work I can think of) should just not be allows to inject their crap onto my own personal computer.

Would you like it if advert text messages appeared on your mobile every 10 minutes, non stop!

Adware programs should NOPT be bundled with programs. It must be made illegal! Punishable by massive fines.

What I would agree to is if I ended up downloading a program that needs adware to operate, the adware would be a separate download from the adware company's web site and allows the computer user so vet EVERY PIECE OF INFORMATION that the adware program wants to send back and elect to block sending of any information. Even the frequency of adverts must be controllable by the computer user.

Just about every aspect of the adware program must be viewable and controllable to by the computer user and when the computer user wishes to uninstall the adware program, it's FULLY AND UNCONDITIONALLY uninstalled, leaving NOTHING of itself behind.

Bundling of adware really need to be made an absolute crime where the punishment is enou8gh to deter bad practive.

If the user wants adware, let the user download the adware from directly adware company's site and lose the legal mumbo jumbo. We ain't all trained lawers. Teh majority of us want a simple, easy and un-complicated life.
Posted by Myron.S (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
i agree about bundling
it should be made illegal to distribute a program that won't work unless a completely unrelated program is installed.

for example, there have been (or maybe still are) p2p programs which say 'in order for this to run, you must install XYZ adware', and if you uninstall 'XZY adware', the next time you try to load the p2p program it will say 'you have removed a critical (my foot) program and this program will no longer run'

it seems like a sort of unethical business practice. since XYZ will pay P2P to bundle their software, P2P will force the user to install it.

the only time a program should be allowed to deny user access is if it requires an activation fee/code. none of this 'you have to install our buddy's junk or else' crap
Posted by Sam Papelbon (242 comments )
Link Flag
But, it's my computer.
The problem with the adware scum (sorry, best work I can think of) should just not be allows to inject their crap onto my own personal computer.

Would you like it if advert text messages appeared on your mobile every 10 minutes, non stop!

Adware programs should NOPT be bundled with programs. It must be made illegal! Punishable by massive fines.

What I would agree to is if I ended up downloading a program that needs adware to operate, the adware would be a separate download from the adware company's web site and allows the computer user so vet EVERY PIECE OF INFORMATION that the adware program wants to send back and elect to block sending of any information. Even the frequency of adverts must be controllable by the computer user.

Just about every aspect of the adware program must be viewable and controllable to by the computer user and when the computer user wishes to uninstall the adware program, it's FULLY AND UNCONDITIONALLY uninstalled, leaving NOTHING of itself behind.

Bundling of adware really need to be made an absolute crime where the punishment is enou8gh to deter bad practive.

If the user wants adware, let the user download the adware from directly adware company's site and lose the legal mumbo jumbo. We ain't all trained lawers. Teh majority of us want a simple, easy and un-complicated life.
Posted by Myron.S (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
i agree about bundling
it should be made illegal to distribute a program that won't work unless a completely unrelated program is installed.

for example, there have been (or maybe still are) p2p programs which say 'in order for this to run, you must install XYZ adware', and if you uninstall 'XZY adware', the next time you try to load the p2p program it will say 'you have removed a critical (my foot) program and this program will no longer run'

it seems like a sort of unethical business practice. since XYZ will pay P2P to bundle their software, P2P will force the user to install it.

the only time a program should be allowed to deny user access is if it requires an activation fee/code. none of this 'you have to install our buddy's junk or else' crap
Posted by Sam Papelbon (242 comments )
Link Flag
Theft cannot be made legitimate
From the story: "Long the pariahs of the Internet, adware companies are trying to make amends with the tech industry and Web surfers. But can they go legitimate?"

Their business model is based on stealing CPU cycles , memory and disk space and internet bandwidth from you the user. How can that ever be legitimate?
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good point!
So how do you bill them for this?
Posted by Myron.S (16 comments )
Link Flag
The adscum seem to ignore this
They even attend(ed) anti-spyware meetings!

They swanned around the place like legitimate businessmen and acted like their opinion mattered and that the anti-spyware types should listen to them!

It's like the mob advising the FBI on how to wiretap.

The scary part is, the scumware crowd are starting to gain investment, which means they can pay lawyers to defend their unethical if not illegal practices and to water down any legislation that gets passed.

Of course, a vigilant public could stomp out the entire threat but they're too busy watching American Idol.
Posted by relictele (5 comments )
Link Flag
Theft cannot be made legitimate
From the story: "Long the pariahs of the Internet, adware companies are trying to make amends with the tech industry and Web surfers. But can they go legitimate?"

Their business model is based on stealing CPU cycles , memory and disk space and internet bandwidth from you the user. How can that ever be legitimate?
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good point!
So how do you bill them for this?
Posted by Myron.S (16 comments )
Link Flag
The adscum seem to ignore this
They even attend(ed) anti-spyware meetings!

They swanned around the place like legitimate businessmen and acted like their opinion mattered and that the anti-spyware types should listen to them!

It's like the mob advising the FBI on how to wiretap.

The scary part is, the scumware crowd are starting to gain investment, which means they can pay lawyers to defend their unethical if not illegal practices and to water down any legislation that gets passed.

Of course, a vigilant public could stomp out the entire threat but they're too busy watching American Idol.
Posted by relictele (5 comments )
Link Flag
"Business" model
Personally I'd like to see all of them crash and burn. At their best, adware/spyware companies are like very annoying panhandlers, pestering their marks into submission. And at their worst they may be compared to burglars, sneaking in and taking all they can steal. Out here in the physical world people who practice this "business" model often wind up in prison or occasionally shot. Shooting them is the more effective solution so I'm in favor of it.

The Internet is a wonderful tool and in that respect it is much like a good hammer. Either tool can be used to accomplish great things but like any other tool, each can be misused, and neither should be used as an assault weapon.
Posted by alphtoo (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"Business" model
Personally I'd like to see all of them crash and burn. At their best, adware/spyware companies are like very annoying panhandlers, pestering their marks into submission. And at their worst they may be compared to burglars, sneaking in and taking all they can steal. Out here in the physical world people who practice this "business" model often wind up in prison or occasionally shot. Shooting them is the more effective solution so I'm in favor of it.

The Internet is a wonderful tool and in that respect it is much like a good hammer. Either tool can be used to accomplish great things but like any other tool, each can be misused, and neither should be used as an assault weapon.
Posted by alphtoo (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thanks to the Author
Thanks for informing the IT society and those that don't know
much about IT the full blown lowdown on Adware and Spyware.

This article is by far the BEST I have ever read on spyware.

Once again, ThankYou from one tech writer to another.

-Justin
Posted by OneWithTech (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thanks to the Author
Thanks for informing the IT society and those that don't know
much about IT the full blown lowdown on Adware and Spyware.

This article is by far the BEST I have ever read on spyware.

Once again, ThankYou from one tech writer to another.

-Justin
Posted by OneWithTech (196 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Their business model is garbage
Money talks, if anyone finds adware or spyware bundled with their product, they should remove it to the best of their ability, or reformat and reinstall windows, then send the company an email informing them that you don't appreciate them installing software without your explicit consent on your machine. Then if you have the means, you should sue them for breaking and entering, or hacking which is what they are doing.

How can anyone put hackers in jail, and let these companies continue to operate. They can not go legitimate, they are the bottom feeders of the web, and they should be punished for their actions.

What is worse, they are making people more wary of the internet in general which can hurt the penetration of new services and features that are dependent on consumer trust.

Let 'em fizzle!
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Their business model is garbage
Money talks, if anyone finds adware or spyware bundled with their product, they should remove it to the best of their ability, or reformat and reinstall windows, then send the company an email informing them that you don't appreciate them installing software without your explicit consent on your machine. Then if you have the means, you should sue them for breaking and entering, or hacking which is what they are doing.

How can anyone put hackers in jail, and let these companies continue to operate. They can not go legitimate, they are the bottom feeders of the web, and they should be punished for their actions.

What is worse, they are making people more wary of the internet in general which can hurt the penetration of new services and features that are dependent on consumer trust.

Let 'em fizzle!
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google has a better concept.....
They target ads based on a users search query.

As one who absolutely despises (read that as hate) companies that develops software that installs without full disclosure and my permission, I absolutely will not do business with any company that advertises in that manner.

Pop ups and overlays aren't much better.

Google however has the right idea, by targeting non intrusive ads related to a users search, they have a better chance of directing the right customer to the right product or service.
Posted by (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google has a better concept.....
They target ads based on a users search query.

As one who absolutely despises (read that as hate) companies that develops software that installs without full disclosure and my permission, I absolutely will not do business with any company that advertises in that manner.

Pop ups and overlays aren't much better.

Google however has the right idea, by targeting non intrusive ads related to a users search, they have a better chance of directing the right customer to the right product or service.
Posted by (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Spyware Self Destructive, and Only HALF the Problem
Personally I have yet to find a use for Adware or Spyware. Companies pay these advertisers big bucks to get their adds to pop up on customers computers, but how can they figure this is productive?

I, personally, will never buy a product that pops up on my screen and annoys the hell out of me. If I get Reebok add after Reebok add, just for example, then logically I will eventually get so ticked off at Reebok that it will totally put me off to buying anything from them. This doesn't hurt the advertising company that has loaded their junk onto my PC because they just flip to another client once the damage to Reebok has been done. Are these manufacturers truly this idiotic in searching for product placement?

Not only that, but these advertisement companies that are pushing this spyware (or whatever name you use for it) on our computers are starting to come under the gun. Already several of these companies have had lawsuits filed against them, and have lost. They make their EULA's so hard to read and so confusing that the normal individual doesn't really know what's going on, and usually just accepts it to avoid the confusion. Either that or they hide their information on very hard to locate webpage within their website where only a Private Investigator would think to look.

Some of these spyware/adware companies will even install software that will allow them to use your computers processing power. Did they pay you to use your computer? Are they subsidizing you for the cost of your Internet connection? Absolutely not, and they would laugh at you if you asked them to. Plain and simple, they are thieves. They are using your computer to avoid them having to purchase extra hardware to do the same job. Why go purchase several servers when you can rob processing power from millions of people to do the job? So youre slowing down their computer. So youre causing them to have to reinstall Windows on a regular basis. So youre costing them billions in technical support fees and anti-spyware software. So what? Youre an advertisement company and as long as your filling your own dam pockets you dont care.

I only see two outcomes from this spyware gig. Either people will get so fed up to the point where the government will make illegal, and there is a major crackdown, or the internet will collapse because spyware will become so rampant that people will avoid the internet all together. Im starting to see a trend toward the second reality, which is sad, because the Internet really is valuable. Ive already seen people not only drop back to dialup, because spyware has issues with it apparently, but cut their internet off all together. I, personally, now go to an Internet café to do anything outside of multiplayer gaming. I also do a lot of internet browsing from work, where the security is so tight that spyware has no chance to install, and just forward information home via my E-Mail. Still, individuals should not have to go to these extremes just to use the Internet for what it is supposed to be, a source of information.

To the advertising companies, youre pathetic. To everyone who is helping them spread these viruses across the globe by downloading P2P programs you need to stop being so cheap, get a job, and go buy the stuff. People can gripe and gripe all they want, but if you contributing to the problem by infecting your own computer because you want something for free then youre just part of the problem and I have no sympathy for you.

Thats my 2 cents, like it or not.
Posted by Jay R___well (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Added note
For those of you who want to rebutt my comment by asking why you should go and buy a music CD for $25 when you only want one song. Try again. You can go online and get them for $0.99 a song, which works out cheeper then buying a CD in the store, and you only get what you want.

For those of you who are going to rebutt by saying software costs too much. P2P is the reason it costs the rest of us a fortune, because they have to put a lot of money into making the games your downloading for free, so in order to make any money they have to jack up the cost.

For those of you who just download for free because you can't afford it. Learn how to budget!
Posted by Jay R___well (6 comments )
Link Flag
Spyware Self Destructive, and Only HALF the Problem
Personally I have yet to find a use for Adware or Spyware. Companies pay these advertisers big bucks to get their adds to pop up on customers computers, but how can they figure this is productive?

I, personally, will never buy a product that pops up on my screen and annoys the hell out of me. If I get Reebok add after Reebok add, just for example, then logically I will eventually get so ticked off at Reebok that it will totally put me off to buying anything from them. This doesn't hurt the advertising company that has loaded their junk onto my PC because they just flip to another client once the damage to Reebok has been done. Are these manufacturers truly this idiotic in searching for product placement?

Not only that, but these advertisement companies that are pushing this spyware (or whatever name you use for it) on our computers are starting to come under the gun. Already several of these companies have had lawsuits filed against them, and have lost. They make their EULA's so hard to read and so confusing that the normal individual doesn't really know what's going on, and usually just accepts it to avoid the confusion. Either that or they hide their information on very hard to locate webpage within their website where only a Private Investigator would think to look.

Some of these spyware/adware companies will even install software that will allow them to use your computers processing power. Did they pay you to use your computer? Are they subsidizing you for the cost of your Internet connection? Absolutely not, and they would laugh at you if you asked them to. Plain and simple, they are thieves. They are using your computer to avoid them having to purchase extra hardware to do the same job. Why go purchase several servers when you can rob processing power from millions of people to do the job? So youre slowing down their computer. So youre causing them to have to reinstall Windows on a regular basis. So youre costing them billions in technical support fees and anti-spyware software. So what? Youre an advertisement company and as long as your filling your own dam pockets you dont care.

I only see two outcomes from this spyware gig. Either people will get so fed up to the point where the government will make illegal, and there is a major crackdown, or the internet will collapse because spyware will become so rampant that people will avoid the internet all together. Im starting to see a trend toward the second reality, which is sad, because the Internet really is valuable. Ive already seen people not only drop back to dialup, because spyware has issues with it apparently, but cut their internet off all together. I, personally, now go to an Internet café to do anything outside of multiplayer gaming. I also do a lot of internet browsing from work, where the security is so tight that spyware has no chance to install, and just forward information home via my E-Mail. Still, individuals should not have to go to these extremes just to use the Internet for what it is supposed to be, a source of information.

To the advertising companies, youre pathetic. To everyone who is helping them spread these viruses across the globe by downloading P2P programs you need to stop being so cheap, get a job, and go buy the stuff. People can gripe and gripe all they want, but if you contributing to the problem by infecting your own computer because you want something for free then youre just part of the problem and I have no sympathy for you.

Thats my 2 cents, like it or not.
Posted by Jay R___well (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Added note
For those of you who want to rebutt my comment by asking why you should go and buy a music CD for $25 when you only want one song. Try again. You can go online and get them for $0.99 a song, which works out cheeper then buying a CD in the store, and you only get what you want.

For those of you who are going to rebutt by saying software costs too much. P2P is the reason it costs the rest of us a fortune, because they have to put a lot of money into making the games your downloading for free, so in order to make any money they have to jack up the cost.

For those of you who just download for free because you can't afford it. Learn how to budget!
Posted by Jay R___well (6 comments )
Link Flag
If it..
Flashes, moves across the text im trying to read, jumps around, or makes noise, I block it. If it trys to install, I blacklist it. If it does install, I remove it.
Posted by wazzledoozle (288 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If it..
Flashes, moves across the text im trying to read, jumps around, or makes noise, I block it. If it trys to install, I blacklist it. If it does install, I remove it.
Posted by wazzledoozle (288 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And they say it's not a bad thing....
Ive been there, done that and got the horrible taste in my mouth to prove that I've experienced scumware (catchy and appropriate generic term I think). Admittedly it's been a while since it's been able to find a home on my PC but I have a few friends who are newer to the whole net thing and easily caught out.

The one thing that hasnt changed in the time since I had my taste and now is the frequency and some of the content of pop-ups. Consider looking up Vin Diesel's xXx with junior in the background and getting a pop-up regarding willing and able lassies complete with full colour pictures!

Now that the scene is set and people know what I'm referring to, my question is; Do the folks at scumware & co have their own software installed on their PC's at home and work? Do they suffer the constant barrage of annoying and unwanted pop-ups, unders and all overs? Do they have their children come face to ummm errr... well it aint a face, with ads that would make Hilary Clinton propose a senate committee?

Some how I doubt it. No matter which saying/proverb you prefer, whether it be "walk a mile in another's shoes" or "do unto others as you would have done unto you" the peddlers of scumware need to look harder at the reasons for why net users are looking for ways to avoid their "products". Futhermore the companies that contract these dubious services have to consider how it portrays them and lastly those of us that have more than a cursory understanding have to educate those around us that continue to encourage scumware providers.

Four by two's all around. One side printed with the message "We don't want your crap" to be used on scumware & co and on the other side "thou shalt not install their crap" for the education of our naive friends.
Posted by j3st3r (70 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And they say it's not a bad thing....
Ive been there, done that and got the horrible taste in my mouth to prove that I've experienced scumware (catchy and appropriate generic term I think). Admittedly it's been a while since it's been able to find a home on my PC but I have a few friends who are newer to the whole net thing and easily caught out.

The one thing that hasnt changed in the time since I had my taste and now is the frequency and some of the content of pop-ups. Consider looking up Vin Diesel's xXx with junior in the background and getting a pop-up regarding willing and able lassies complete with full colour pictures!

Now that the scene is set and people know what I'm referring to, my question is; Do the folks at scumware & co have their own software installed on their PC's at home and work? Do they suffer the constant barrage of annoying and unwanted pop-ups, unders and all overs? Do they have their children come face to ummm errr... well it aint a face, with ads that would make Hilary Clinton propose a senate committee?

Some how I doubt it. No matter which saying/proverb you prefer, whether it be "walk a mile in another's shoes" or "do unto others as you would have done unto you" the peddlers of scumware need to look harder at the reasons for why net users are looking for ways to avoid their "products". Futhermore the companies that contract these dubious services have to consider how it portrays them and lastly those of us that have more than a cursory understanding have to educate those around us that continue to encourage scumware providers.

Four by two's all around. One side printed with the message "We don't want your crap" to be used on scumware & co and on the other side "thou shalt not install their crap" for the education of our naive friends.
Posted by j3st3r (70 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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