Things To Tune In To

06 May 2005

A lot of stuff is going on right now, and I don’t have the time to blog about everything separately. So here are some short descriptions to situate the topic, followed by a link to read it and maybe some comments every here and there.


A while a go a group of top newspaper publishers has reached a legal settlement with Gator over the uninvited display of its Web advertisements atop their site pages. C|Net reported on this matter.

The case got settled out of the courtroom, between the parties involved, so we never knew who got it right, nor if Gator (now Claria -as I’ve blogged about earlier) was pulling an illegal operation.

Now there’s a new case in the news with WhenU, a very nasty spyware pack that’s a bit like GAIN. WhenU has LOST it’s case in the courtroom, with the judge ruling in favor of 1-800-Contacts. Read the story on C|Net, it’s very interesting. This is worth a class-act.

“In November, a federal court judge in Michigan’s Southern Division dismissed Wells Fargo’s motion to block WhenU’s pop-ups. The judge ruled in favor of WhenU on the grounds that its users chose to install WhenU’s SaveNow software and therefore consented to receive the comparative ads delivered atop Web sites. Also in September, a Virginia U.S. District Court judge ruled against U-Haul International in its similar case against WhenU. Previous complaints from and had been dropped.”

So why is there another sort of decision this time? What has changed? Well, WhenU is being sued for something they never counted on being sued for. ” [...]the judge granted the preliminary injunction based only on trademark infringement, considering the likelihood that WhenU’s pop-ups could mislead or confuse 1-800-Contacts visitors as to the origin of the ads.”

“This judge simply got it wrong,” Naider said. Such a decision “would have major ramifications on search engine advertising and comparative advertising, and we’re confident it will be overturned on appeal.”Avi Naider is the chief executive of WhenU.

Read the entire article on C|Net.


Nathan Weinberg has posted a lot of things lately about the Accelerator Google has unleashed upon us. It seems there are some serious flaws in the software. By ‘preloading’ the pages behind the links, Google wanted you to save time. It also bypasses Java PopUp alerts. So, suppose you are on a site with an unsubscribe button or a ‘cancel my account’ button, these pages theoretically should be loaded too. If hoovering a link long enough triggers the link to activate (I take onMouseOver as an example here), Google could delete your account.

Nathan says:

“I ‘m beginning to think prefetching, while a lofty idea, just can’t work in real life. There are far too many questions and problems. If Google has found solutions to these problems, well, good for them. I’d be quite proud to hear that they are smart enough to have already thought of these issues and solved them. The problem is, since Google is so quiet and secretive, we have absolutely no idea if that is the case.”

Let’s wait and hear what Google has to say about this.

Read more about this on InsideGoogle


As for WhenU, you have read and are familiar the with background by now.
(if not : read this)

Ben Edelman, a 25 year old spyware expert, says AskJeeves is a bit like the software Claria offers through sub-companies like GAIN and others.
The reason why:

“Ask Jeeves has a search engine that nobody really wants to go to. To get users to come, they push these toolbars. But if the toolbars are installed without proper notice and consent, then the entire business collapses. They have no legitimate business source of any substantial traffic to their Web site.”

“It’s not exactly spyware like the others. It doesn’t show pop-up ads. As far as I know it doesn’t track and transmit to its servers every Web site you visit. Yet it uses equally tricky installation tactics.”

“The core problem is Ask Jeeves’ installation practices. Sometimes their software gets installed without any notice or consent at all through security hole exploits. When they do ask for permission, they don’t always tell users everything they need to know to make an informed choice. For example, when installing a Web browser toolbar, they use euphemisms like “directly accessible from your Web browser” instead of the obvious and natural word ‘toolbar’.”

“They’re getting installations from kids’ sites. I’ve been trying to figure out how these programs have such a large installed base: Who in their right mind would agree to have their computer become a vehicle for pop-up ads? It turns out that many of these programs target kids. They advertise their software at kids sites. They bundle it with video games. They use advertisement images like smiley faces.”

This outstanding interview can be read on C|Net, and it’s definitely worth reading. Click here to go there.

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Posted by Miel Van Opstal in Advertising, Search, Spam & Scam


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