Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Malicious Advertising

by: Daniel Punch

Advertising is a necessary irritant in the world today. You can't drive down the street without coming across an ad, either a billboard suspended over a road or a large poster plastered down the side of a bus. If you walk into a shopping centre it doesn't matter where you look, you see an advertisement of some kind. Even the tables in the food court now have ads embedded in them, and on my last trip to Melbourne I noticed that they were starting to embed flat screen TVs into the tables to deliver the full commercial experience to your meal. If you jump on the Internet you have to contend with pop-ups and banner ads, with some advertising agents being ruthless enough to write malicious code that embeds the ad into your computer so that you still receive the pop-ups even when you're not at the original site.

In the past, pop-ups and banner ads have been easy enough to avoid with the right software installed (incidentally, am I the only one who finds pop-up ads that advertise pop-up blockers tremendously amusing?) but now the software developers have worked their way around that little problem. The solution was simple; sell advertising space in your software, not just on your web page.

As much as I like to complain about this new idea, it does come with a significant upside. These days, not all Shareware applications drop out after a limited period of use, nor do they constantly remind you to register. Having ads in the software...

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