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]

PREVIOUSLY: Are Cingular And Travelocity Still Supporting Adware?
Priceline, Travelocity and Cingular Settle Over Adware Charges


Edit Your Comment

  1. Perhaps Cingular, Verizon, and Travelocity should start acting like Consumerists when it comes to who gets their advertising dollars. Stop permitting redistribution and don’t work with companies who start a chain of subcontracting. If they’re really going to stop this they need 1NTC (1 neck to choke).

    Or maybe they don’t really care that much.

  2. GopherGod says:

    It isn’t them, they are paying a third party company a cost per lead, or cost per click.

    They should research those companies better, but I am sure that is where it comes from.

  3. rugger_can says:

    Seeing as there is no current legal recourse for advertising via mal-ware and ad-ware its safe to say these companies just don’t care. All they have to do is say “oops, we did not mean for that too happen”. I honestly believe that if they charged and convicted the creators of ad-ware and mal-ware the way they do hackers you would see plenty of change. Alas dare to dream the impossible.

  4. lestat730 says:

    I wonder if it would be possible for a group of angry customers to distribute adverts for these companies via ad-ware for the sole purpose of trying to make them look bad. I realize these companies are looked down on by many people and they may very well be guilty of this. Still at this late hour my mind wanders to conspiracy’s :)

  5. shdwsclan says:

    I remember back in the day with those free internet providers where your agreement to view ads on half your screen allowed you to get internet access….

    Well, that doesnt work out too well since you can hack the software to think its broadcasting ads.

    I have software that actually filters out ads from pages. Like on consumerist, i dont have an ad on top of my screen, nor do i have one on the sidebar…

  6. Nick1693 says:

    @lestat730: I’d say Angry CSRs