In other cases adverts
were imbedded directly into the download only being removed when the
software was registered. Many well known software companies, including
Netscape distributed ad supported versions, which allowed users to use
the software for free. Developers were compensated either by install or
the number of ads served. Advertisers welcomed new revenue streams to
reach potential customers.
advertising-supported software is any software application in which
advertisements are displayed while the program is running. These
applications include additional code that displays the ads in pop-up
windows or through a bar that appears on a computer screen. Adware helps
recover program development costs, and helps to hold down the price of
making the application for the user, often making it free of charge. As
a result of the AdWare revenue programmers were motivated to write
maintain, and upgrade valuable ad-enabled software. Adware was a great
consumer trade off, so were did it all go wrong?
Unbeknownst to the
developers a handful of ad serving companies were logging and profiling
the surfing habits of those who had downloaded the ad-enabled software.
After downloading free software, the new adware companies delivered
pop-up and pop-under ads based on the consumers surfing interests.
Adware has been criticized for including code that tracks a user's
surfing habits, email address and personal information, which are passed
to third parties, without the user's authorization or knowledge. This
was the downfall of the ad serving technology and ad-enabled software.
In many cases consumers
rightfully believe they have been and are being spied on, which prompted
an outcry from privacy advocates. Adware is not a virus and may not be
detected by anti-virus scanning programs. It does not spread the same
way as most viruses spread. Many users do not know they are downloading
a free program along with adware onto their computer. The lack of
disclosure tarnished reputations of many well known, but misfortunate
developers and software companies. The collapse of a number of venture
backed ad-serving companies including Aureate and Conducent.
Fast forward to today.
Few applications are now ad enabled. Those that are generally follow
strict disclosure guidelines. Some developers opt to insert static (not
changing) ads for other applications in their product line, into free
versions, but these ads do not change and there is no record of what ads
are clicked. Freeware can therefore be used free of charge and there is
no evaluation time period as with shareware. Freeware is also often a
basic or stripped down version of the shareware version. Developers make
money off ads or those who want to upgrade from the free version. There
are also developers who provide freeware out of principle, occasionally
asking for a donation. The majority of freeware that employs the use of
imbedded advertisements are provided in the true spirit of adware
without the intent to track users, but just to be safe consumers should
read the fine print.
Kaspersky, Anti-Virus & Anti-Hacker Software