After my post about advertising on 180Search, a PR person for 180Search contacted me, wanting to set up a call between me and various personnel at the company. They wanted to explain why 180Search would deliver an ad that seemed to do no service to either me or the advertiser. They also wanted to address my concerns about what the program leaves behind after uninstalling. I was a little wary, because I expected them to try and talk me over to their position. I'm pleased that they merely answered my questions. I'll give you a run-down of the conversation, as it provides some insight into how 180Search works. First, it was interesting to hear that keyword searches on the URL string trigger its advertisements. In my earlier post I commented on how I went to Amazon's site and got served an ad for the German version of Amazon, Amazon.de. Since "books" appears in the URL if you're browsing books on Amazon's site, "books" was probably the keyword triggering Amazon.de. (Although I would think Amazon.de would want "Bucher" as the keyword.) You could probably have some fun reverse-engineering the 180Search keywords by trying out different likely words in the browser address field of a 180Search infected computer. The folks from 180Search acknowledged that serving the Amazon.de advertisement was a mistake. (But will they refund that advertising money?)Interestingly, the pop-up I got for Amazon.de was the entire front page of the site, served in a 180Search container. If I had bought anything via this pop-up (hah!), 180Search probably would have gotten an affiliate commission. Ben Edelman details this type of behavior in a study he did on how 180Search garners affiliate commissions as well as advertising dollars. I queried the 180Search folks on why the Zango version of their software leaves an installer behind. They insisted it doesn't, and seemed to be assuming I hadn't completely cleaned off my machine. I've been invited to retest the software next week for a clean uninstall. Note to 180Search: don't forget to also have it get rid of that folder labeled "search-assistant".
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