|Pop-up boxes springing up at almost each click, ranging from “You have won a million dollars” to “Click here to download free wallpapers”, being online sometimes can be quite an irritating experience. One would encounter thousands of such pop-up ads while surfing the net. Even if one does not have the pop-up blocker on, most of these ads don’t really do any harm – unless you are enticed by the offer of a million dollar prize (for god-knows-what), you wouldn’t really click on that dialog box, would you?|
Remember BonziBUDDY, the purple gorilla on your desktop that would “explore the internet with you as your very own friend and sidekick.” It would manage a user’s searches, emails and downloads as well as provide entertainment through jokes, songs and the like. Labeled as spyware by the magazine Consumer Reports in 2002, how did this free software of no apparent value to the user end up on people’s desktops?
A prime example of deceptive online advertising, BONZI Software (the makers of BonziBUDDY) issued online ads that mimicked Windows system warnings or told users that their computers were “broadcasting” their IP addresses. Clicking OK would direct the user to Bonzi’s website where he/she would be prompted to download the application.
The internet is a primary medium for marketing software, after all it’s fast and easy – if the user likes the stuff, she can download it immediately, making it a far more effective marketing tool than the ones traditionally used. But is all sound with the tactics software companies come up with to make people download their products? Everyone of us has encountered dialog boxes that do not behave normally, where clicking OK or Cancel opens up a download window whether the user wants it or not.
Such cases aren’t being taken lightly anymore. In response to a lawsuit filed against it in 2003, BONZI Software was forced to change the format of its ads so they did not resemble Windows message boxes. Additionally, the boxes were required to contain the word "Advertisement" on them so that computer users knew what they are looking at. BONZI software had to also ensure that the dialog boxes did not carry any buttons that functioned abnormally.
BonziBUDDY was discontinued in 2004, but marketing tactics such as those used by it continue to be seen on the internet. So the next time you see a weird dialog box asking you to optimize your internet connection by clicking OK, simply ignore it, unless you want to download some spyware or adware that you don’t wish to have on your computer.
Retrieved : 01/04/2007