Marketers knowingly place more than half of the pop-up ads served by nuisance adware programmes, according to new research.

The study by the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) found that 55 per cent of the ads displayed by adware distributors are placed directly by the companies being advertised.

This is despite the fact that many ads purchased by major national companies pass through complex networks of affiliates before being displayed by nuisance adware distributors.

CDT deputy director Ari Schwartz expressed disappointment that legitimate companies continue to associate themselves with adware and spyware.

“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,” Mr Schwartz said.

“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 report, entitled Following the Money II: The Role of Intermediaries in Adware Advertising, urges companies to establish and enforce policies to prevent their ads from appearing through nuisance distributors, and to be more careful about choosing affiliate partners.

“Companies need to take responsibility when their advertising dollars go to support companies that prey on unsuspecting consumers,” said CDT policy analyst Alissa Cooper, who co-authored the report.

“Whether placed directly or through intermediaries, these ads diminish the Internet experience for millions of people.”
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