Two Sides of Spyware

by Stephanie Rewis on August 11, 2004

Screaming we run from spyware… adware… those pesky programs that slither in like worms and quietly take over our computers turning them into compost (well, they do if you're on a PC). Some auto-pop Explorer windows onto your desktop when you're not surfing… they put links for adult and pharmacy sites, gambling and shopping directly into your bookmarks. They turn your home page into an ad-popping automaton. And please, do have fun getting rid of it.

The interesting news is that many companies, large and small, are using it to advertise. In fact, a large client of an acquaintance uses Gator/Claria and they say the performance is superior to just about anything they've tried so far. The presentations given by Gator/Claria are said to be impressive and the data they collect is very valuable to advertisers. Gator/Claria claims there are over 40 Million installed users (how many were voluntary?).

Google came out with a policy statement of guidelines and principles about adware that they hope will help foster discussion as well as get others to follow suit. These include transparency, disclosure and simplicity of removal. Well, that would be a start wouldn't it?
Personally, I can't stand the stuff. Being predominantely a Mac user with a PC testing box (running XP), I have found it to be extremely time-consuming and annoying to deal with. Especially with kids that go to gaming and guitar sites on a regular basis.

I have a few questions. How valuable is this stuff really? Does America actually click on the bookmarks or pop ups? If so, do they not realize it's coming from scumware or do they not care? Has anyone seen evidence or studies that the traffic or clicks actually turn into conversions? If America wises up and actually learns to clean their computers off (instead of calling me, the web professional who uses a Mac to do it), will adware stats that show this to be valuable incline or decline? Do some of your clients advertise with these companies and find it fruitful? I would love answers to these questions — however anecdotal. What are you finding “out there.”

Can they really make money, long-term, by trying to fool people?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jake August 30, 2004 at 5:07 pm

I’ve read that it basically doesn’t need a decent return. For as little money as it costs (like email spam) to set up a popup or a banner ad, even a few sales cover the costs.

And yes, there really are people THAT stupid out there that actually use these things.

Leave a Comment