Verizon, Cingular, and Travelocity "Accidentally" Advertise On Adware

Ha, ha, whoops! We’re just not sure how those ads got served by evil adware applications! From PC World:

Earlier this year, AT&T’s Cingular division and Travelocity both pledged not to advertise anymore via adware–programs that slip onto PCs and inject ads into a user’s browser. Verizon took a stance against computer invaders when it became a sponsor of an antispyware initiative. Yet, in March, ads from all three companies were being distributed through adware.

These businesses, along with Comcast and Vonage, acknowledge that their ads have surfaced in adware, but say they never intended for that to happen. The incidents raise a troubling question: Have advertising networks grown so complicated that sponsoring firms can’t control where their ads appear, or are the companies simply not being vigilant enough?

The short answer is, “Yes,” but tracking where your ads end up on the internet is harder than you might think.

So how do seemingly respectable companies (yeah, yeah, we know) end up giving their advertising dollars to shady adware distributors?

Verizon banner ads were showing up on sites like Google because of a program called DollarRevenue. Once installed on a PC, the DollarRevenue software can inject ads on Web sites in the same way FullContext does. McAfee and Symantec both quarantine DollarRevenue when they find it on users’ PCs, calling it a high-risk program.

“Something went wrong,” says Jim Smith, a Verizon spokesperson. He says Verizon did business with an advertiser that contracted with another advertiser to distribute the ads. That firm in turn contracted with another advertiser. While Verizon permits redistribution of ads, Smith says, it prohibits the use of adware to show Verizon ads. He says Verizon suspended the advertiser from distributing ads until further review.

The internet shall never be tamed. For more info on the continuing research into who is supporting adware, check out Ben Edelman’s web page. —MEGHANN MARCO

Ben Edelman
Companies Can’t Break Ties to Adware [PC World]

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