CDT: Advertisers Knowingly Sponsor Adware


The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) has released “Following the Money II”, a follow-up to a report released in March that identified prominent businesses that advertise through the Zango (AKA 180Solutions) adware platform. “Following the Money II” finds that 60% of ads served by adware distributors placed there were knowingly paid for by the advertisers.

“It’s deeply frustrating that legitimate companies continue to willingly do business with adware distributors known to be engaged in unethical, and in some cases illegal, distribution practices,” said CDT deputy director Ari Schwartz in a statement. “Clearly these companies haven’t gotten the message about how fed up consumers are with adware and spyware. I can’t understand why any legitimate company would risk tarnishing its brand by association with such practices.”

The study looked at 380 ads served by Zango and Direct Revenue, and “followed the money” from the adware provider all the way back to the advertiser. The CDT also found that 55% of adware ads were placed there directly by the advertiser, while only 5% were placed there blindly by intermediaries. The study found that ads from large, well-known companies tended to be placed more by intermediaries, where the advertiser has no say in how its ads are placed than ads from lesser-known brands.

UPDATE: Zango has posted its own retort to the CDT report, which can be found on the company’s blog under the heading UPDATE – Response to Intermediaries Report


  1. Did the CDT ever think that just maybe advertisers like the outstanding response rates they receive from adware?
    If this is so “annoying” as Mr. Schwartz alleges, why do consumers click, respond and convert at such a high rate to these ads?


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