Adverts that look like downloads

Posted:
29 Apr 2012 - 18:00 UTC.

I've touched in the past about the weakness of advert quality control in the likes of Google AdSense. If you look at the likes of download sites like sourceforge, cnet or gamefront you will see image based adverts looking like download links. These "generic" adverts link to downloads containing spyware or malware.

I'm critical of the lack of control offered on the likes of AdSense, combined with the abuse of generic words such as "download" being available to advertise against. While advertising companies need to make money, they also need to counter this with a sense of ethics to prevent abuse, especially when the abuse puts peoples computers and privacy at risk.

The complaint mechanism for AdSense is unhelpful, and is geared towards complaints against sites showing adverts and not the actual companies placing the adverts. This is a good example of where the priority lies, and that is with making money.

There is no fool proof way to completely mitigate the issue of bad adverts, but allowing a site to block certain keywords, or certain companies from being displayed on their site you at least give something that is better than nothing. If you want to go further you could have a mutual reputation system, samples of which can be seen in twitter and stackoverflow, or even the software marketplaces offered by Apple and Microsoft.

Advert companies complain about the use of advert blockers, but they have a duty of care to generic users of websites which they aren't fulfilling, mainly because of greed.

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