Advertisement-supported software or ‘adware’ generates revenue for developers by automatically generating adverts on the screen of web users, usually within a web browser.
Typically created for computers but increasingly affecting mobile devices too, some types of adware are highly manipulative, creating an open door for malicious programs.
Adware displays unwanted pop-up advertisements that interfere with user enjoyment. They generally arrive on a user’s device via one of two routes:
- Vulnerabilities in operating systems or software can be exploited by hackers, introducing malware – including adware – onto the system.
- The user may install an app or free computer program without realizing it contains adware. This generates revenue for the app developer, but it is contentious, since it often involves web users downloading adware onto their systems without their knowledge or consent.
Freeware and shareware are notoriously common conduits for the installation of adware onto devices without the owner’s knowledge. Free software that contains ads can be annoying, but is not illegal per se. However, if a third-party program introduces malicious ad software onto a computer system without the owner’s consent, this is illegal in many countries.
Adware installs itself silently onto devices, the developer’s intention being that users will click on the advert it displays. Developers and distributing vendors can make money from adware in one of three ways:
Generating a sufficient amount of traffic is critical to the success of any website. There are many legitimate – and illegitimate – ways of enticing visitors to view online content, and some are more fruitful than others. One very effective channel is pay-per-view advertising, known as ‘PPV’ for short. PPV can be a highly effective method of increasing traffic flow with minimum effort.
PPV internet marketing relies on adware to increase internet traffic flow, for example, by generating a pop-up when a web user visits a particular website. If they then click on that pop-up, the adware developer is paid a set amount.
Pay-per-install or ‘PPI’ marketing campaigns present third-party advertisements and offers during the installation process, giving users the option to install additional programs. If they opt to install a third-party program, the developer receives a commission. PPI advertising is incredibly effective, delivering a targeted user base of warm leads and a rich supply of conversions.
The pay-per-click or ‘PPC’ advertising model enables advertisers to place ads on a platform, paying the host a set amount every time their ad is clicked. The goal of such ads is to entice users to click on the advertiser’s app or website, where they will be encouraged to complete a valuable action such as purchasing a particular product. Search engines are popular host platforms for PPC advertising, enabling businesses to display ads that are relevant to user searches.
Google Ads is the world’s most widely used PPC advertising system. The platform enables businesses to create ads that feature prominently on search results pages. These ads appear at the top of the page, enticing web users to click on them rather than organic search results.
Google shows web users that content is sponsored by prefixing the word ‘Ad’ to the web address. Google Ads is an effective method of marketing a business, since Google – as the world’s most popular search engine – receives vast amounts of traffic, therefore delivering the most impressions and (potentially) conversions.
Problems Associated with Adware
Most adware is annoying rather than dangerous, triggering pop-ups, text ads and banners within a browser window while the user searches for information, interfering with usability and ultimately impacting the user experience.
Adware may cause bookmarks or random pages to unexpectedly open, slowing down the system and triggering malfunctions. Some adware collects the user’s data, enabling the developer to sell the user’s ad profile. This contains their browsing history, including visited websites, performed searches and their IP address.
Signs that adware may have been installed on a computer include:
- Advertisements appearing unexpectedly
- The homepage changing without the user’s permission
- Slowed web browsing and frequent malfunctions
- Websites redirecting visitors unexpectedly
- New toolbars, extensions and plugins appearing without user consent
- PC resource consumption surging inexplicably
Adsterra works hard to protect its customers against fraud and unscrupulous advertising activities, which is why all of the ad network’s customer services and tools are covered by Adsterra malware protection.
Adsterra strives to keep ahead of the curve in global security innovations, promptly detecting and responding to new threats to grow long-term customer satisfaction.