ethical: conforming to accepted professional standards of conduct -- Merriam-Webster OnLine: Collegiate Dictionary. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary.htm 2001. (17 August 2001).
I swear, internet marketing companies are getting more obnoxious and unethical every day. I guess it was just naive to thing banner ad risen to it's highest heights of stupidity with "punch money" banner. And I don't know about you, but I didn't really believe marketers could get any lower on scum scale than exit windows that run away from cursor so they are more difficult to close.
Well, I was wrong and I admit I was incredibly naive.
The marketers have come up with some incredibly unethical, horribly annoying gimmicks. The dirty tricks they are pulling now make exit windows look like child's play. In fact, games these boys are playing makes marketing methods of scummiest adult web sites look downright professional in comparison.
The trend seems to have started a few years ago with a handy little utility called Gator. This "tool" professed to offer a great benefit to surfers - ability to remember contents of forms and password entry screens. Further, since Gator is actually pretty good at recognizing that a page contains a known form or password entry field, it is indeed very useful. I installed program for a while and found it to be a wonderful complement to my surfing.
True, it did have this annoying habit of throwing a "coupon" up on my screen occasionally. I didn't think much about it at all - I just closed coupon as quick as I could. This phenomenon didn't happen very often - in fact, at first I had difficulty figuring out what was actually causing it to occur. I naturally assumed this was a feature of web site that I was visiting.
However, coupons slowly became more and more common, and they began appearing at worst possible times. They interfered with my shopping and surfing habits by breaking my train of concentration and thought.
I began to try and understand this strange phenomenon. I quickly realized this was a byproduct of Gator - and I soon understood that utility was simply "bait" to get people to install an insidious, almost evil, advertising machine on their systems. In fact, program is so obnoxious and so unethical that I truly believe no sane person would install it, no matter what benefit, if they completely understood what was going on.
Gator (and other similar, but less popular products) is something called a "Browser Helper Object". What this means is it is a small program which makes itself known to Internet Explorer, telling IE that to send information to Gator about web pages that are being loaded into browser. It's job of a Browser Helper Object to extend capabilities of browser in a useful way. In case of Gator, usefulness is to recognize forms and password entry fields so default values can be inserted.
In addition, Gator wants to know what kinds of advertisements are appearing on pages that are being loaded. It also wants to see if page's subject is related to a product which one of it's paid advertisers is hawking. This is it's real purpose. The convenience is just a smoke screen.
Let's say you are surfing to your favorite shopping site and you want to order some flowers. You proceed to flower shop and suddenly a "coupon" magically appears in front of you, offering you flowers elsewhere, presumably better or at a lower cost.
Okay, let's put this in real world terms so you can understand what's really going on. Let's pretend you are at mall, going from shop to shop. There is this guy (let's call him Benedict) standing behind you with a notebook and pen in his hand. He has a bag of flyers hanging from one shoulder and a money counting machine on other.
As you go from store to store Benedict watches your every move (by way, he has a radio and reports everything you do back to his home office where it is permanently recorded). You go into a clothing store and pick up a pair of jeans. Suddenly a flyer appears under your nose, informing you there are cheaper, better jeans in a shop down road. You look Benedict and he smiles nicely at you. You push flyer out of way and keep shopping.
Now you go into a candy store and walk up to counter to order some chocolate. Again, a flyer appears in front of your face offering you chocolate at discount prices in a competing store. You push flyer out of way and pick out some chocolate that you want to purchase. Benedict pulls out his money counting machine, takes your wallet, counts money, hands it to cashier, and returns your wallet. This, by way, is "benefit" that makes it useful to have Benedict around.
I'll bet it wouldn't take long before you either called cops or punched Benedict in nose! And, of course, store operators would make sure Benedict was arrested and thrown in jail, and they would sue company for sure.
Well, guess what, it's gotten worse and more unethical, as hard as that is to believe.
According to reports, Gator is now working on a version which not only throws coupons in front of your face, it actually finds banners ads and covers them up with other advertisements so carefully and precisely that you would never know original ad was there.
Now Benedict runs ahead of you as you shop and replaces all of signs with advertisements for other stores. If you walked through our hypothetical mall and peaked under that ad for a movie, you might find there is actually an ad for an entirely different movie there. The billboard might actually be advertising something totally different. In fact, signs in stores themselves could be replaced with signs directing you to other stores.