YOUR AD HERE , AND HERE, AND HERE

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YOUR AD HERE , AND HERE, AND HERE

 user 2006-04-14 at 11:16:00 am Views: 67
  • #15024

    Your Ad Here. And Here. And Here
    How a web of middlemen is hijacking the placement of online ads — and cashing in
    Woe
    unto the Web surfer who visits http://www.easycracks.net. The site, popular
    with curious teenagers, offers free code used to unlock bootleg copies
    of everything from Windows XP to video games. But click a link to
    download a pirated program, approve one pop-up window, and secretive
    programs install themselves on your PC. Then this “adware” generates
    endless pop-up ads from well-known companies such as AT&T , eBay ,
    and Internet phone service provider Vonage Holdings.
    It’s one
    example of how some questionable characters are hijacking the placement
    of online ads as big companies pour billions into Web marketing. On
    Apr. 4, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer filed fraud charges
    against Internet marketing firm Direct Revenue LLC for allegedly
    sneaking adware onto millions of PCs. Direct Revenue calls the lawsuit
    baseless.
    The gravy train starts with big advertisers. The companies
    they hire, such as Yahoo! and Google Inc, tally the clicks the ads
    generate and charge accordingly. But to juice the returns, those
    outfits sign up partners who distribute the ads in return for a fee,
    and those partners sign up other partners. With each layer vying for
    more locations to showcase lucrative ads, there’s an incentive for
    someone along the line to deliver them via surreptitiously installed
    programs. Says Ed English, chief technology officer for antispyware
    products at security firm Trend Micro Inc. : “We’re seeing new trick
    after new trick.”
    An analysis by computer security firm Sana
    Security Inc. of San Mateo, Calif., shows how such a scheme works. At
    easycracks.net, users who want to download codes to obtain unauthorized
    copies of Microsoft Office 2000 are asked to install a type of
    software, known as ActiveX controls, offered by Dutch firm E.C.S.
    International. But approving the installation causes at least 16 other
    pieces of adware to download. None ask for permission to install
    themselves on PCs, according to Sana. They quickly deliver as many as
    five pop-up ads per minute.
    That setup could generate substantial
    income. Mike Friedman, business development manager for E.C.S., says it
    pays easycracks up to 30 cents per installation of the adware programs
    on U.S.-based PCs. So for each PC loaded with 16 programs, easycracks
    could earn up to $4.80. In turn, E.C.S. makes money from brokers who
    pump ads through its adware. Friedman admits his company’s user
    agreement does not clearly disclose that 16 pieces of adware will
    download onto PCs. E.C.S. is changing the agreement, he says, and as a
    result of BusinessWeek’s inquiry it is investigating easycracks.
    Easycracks, whose Web site says it is based in Armenia, did not respond
    to e-mailed requests for comment.
    Big advertisers say it’s difficult
    to track their ads. “They put your name all over some pop-up ad,” says
    eBay spokesman Hani Durzy. “As we become aware of them, we take action
    to get them to stop.” But analysts say companies are only beginning to
    actively police ad networks. Harvard researcher Benjamin G. Edelman
    says a Vonage ad traveled through as many as eight subdistributors
    before appearing on the PCs of users who visited easycracks.net. Vonage
    spokeswoman Brooke Schulz says the company immediately notified its
    online ad agency, a unit of ad conglomerate Arnold Worldwide Partners,
    after it was contacted by BusinessWeek.
    In a separate study, Edelman
    shows how ads purchased for placement on Yahoo and partner sites by
    companies such as Cablevision Systems Corp.  were also redistributed
    until they showed up as pop-ups. According to Edelman, Yahoo became
    blind to the trail of its own ads. One partner, Ditto.com, presented a
    Yahoo ad through another site, NBCSearch (not affiliated with the TV
    network). That company passed it along to one of its own partners.
    (NBCsearch and Ditto.com did not respond to requests for comment.)
    Sometimes, the ads showed up in pop-ups from spyware programs. In a
    prepared statement, Yahoo says it “takes the quality of its search ad
    distribution network very seriously. We are carefully investigating the
    claims that have been raised.”