Affiliate Ethics: Beware of this New Adware Platform

Jennie Scholick Apr 14, 2015

A lot of the time, detecting potential bad actors in the affiliate world can be hard: these guys are smart, and it’s in their best interest to hide (and hide well) from brands, affiliate managers, and honest affiliates.

But sometimes they come right to you.

We’ve been hearing recently that someone had been aggressively marketing an adware platform to numerous people in the affiliate industry--including, ironically, a lot of folks who work on the front lines of affiliate compliance and who have little patience for adware. We managed to get our hands on a copy of the message:

I wanted to reach out to you since you were in the group and see if you were interested in starting your own adware network. I have written a platform called [AdwareCompany] that will allow you to bundle an exe with any software program to create users that you can then market to via popups, javascript ads, banners, and targeted popups on keywords or domains. You can even integrate the platform with an ad server and sell traffic to advertisers. Costs to buy installs through the PPI networks range from .05 - .40 an install. Why rent a click when you can buy a user? If you are interested or know of someone else that would benefit I have a referral program. You can also review the website [].

Whether adware is or isn’t inherently negative for brands is a subject that’s up for (heated) debate, but we at BrandVerity do tend to think that adware is bad for merchants and affiliates, as it is often deployed to steal legitimate commissions from both. Proponents of adware--including many networks and affiliates--will feel differently. For them, as long as a user opts-in to having the program installed on their machine, the adware is a legitimate form of advertising.

That said, regardless of the larger legal or ethical considerations associated with using adware, in this case, the use is definitely not legitimate, as the suggestion is to bundle the platform with other software downloads. As we’ve mentioned before on this blog and in our Branded Keywords Report, this kind of bundling--where a consumer thinks they’re downloading free, reputable, software, and gets more than they bargained for--does no favors to either brands or customers.

We’d love to know if you’ve experienced this kind of outreach and how you responded. Let us know in the comments below or contact us at BrandVerity!

Topics: affiliate marketing

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