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New wave of Web ads on the way

by Donna Buenaventura / March 30, 2004 2:42 PM PST

Internet marketers are promising a new generation of online advertising "lite" that's more effective and less annoying than some current methods, but they could have a hard time convincing jaded Web surfers they're for real.

Highlighting the trend, 180solutions this week will begin promoting a downloadable program that purports to offer a gentler twist on "adware," providing users access to free music downloads and other content in exchange for the right to flash a limited number of ads onto their computer screens.

Complaints and challenges
But 180solutions is entering a thorny market. Some adware programs have been criticized for lax disclosure policies, leading to complaints from users that they installed the program without knowing it.

The company has faced such complaints over n-Case, billed by the company as an advertising software tool.

According to security site PestPatrol, n-Case is "an ActiveX drive-by installer," meaning that it can automatically install itself onto desktops through various ads at Web sites. The program then adds new files and serves pop-up ads, according to the site. It also poses a risk to privacy, with the ability to send a unique identifier from the PC to its home servers that could include data on Web usage, e-mail and other personally identifiable information.

n-Case has been installed on 30 million PCs, 180solutions' Smith said, and the company plans to "upgrade" those applications in the coming year. He denied that n-Case is so-called spyware.


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