26
Apr/04

Adware: What Didn't They Know and When Didn't They Know It?


Do po-up ads cause consumer confusion?  Let’s say a computer user is viewing the website of Superior Morgage Broker Services, and a window appears advertising say, Vanguard Mortgage Broker Services.  Whether the user is confused as to some conection between the services advertised in the main window and the identical services advertised in the pop-up window, may depend on whether the user is aware that pop-up adware is installed on his or her computer.  The extent to which people know (1) that such software is installed and (2) what such software does, is a contended point in cases such as 1-800-Contacts v. WhenU and Wells Fargo v. WhenU.

Both the NY Times (free sub required) and the Wall Street Journal have articles today on spyware and adware.  They both quote Avi Naider, CEO of WhenU as indicating that WhenU’s adware has been installed on 100 million, and was no longer active on 80 million (we don’t know the time frame).  Mr. Naider asserts that this statistic indicates that the software was user-friendly and easy to remove.  The Journal immediately notes that the ‘high’ uninstall rate may also “reflect the disdain with which most consumers view the technology.”

What else may the statistic suggest?  Questions for the survey experts arise:  How does an 80% uninstall rate compare to those of other programs?  Is the uninstall rate evidence that people either didn’t know that the software was initially installed or, if they did know, that they didn’t know what the software did?

 

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