What Advertisers Use WhenU?

Advertisers Using WhenU

Ever wonder who advertises on WhenU? A few reporters have tried to figure this out but have been stymied: Few companies care to talk about their use of Claria or WhenU. (WSJ [paid registration required], BusinessWeek).

So I thought I’d put together a list of all of WhenU’s current advertisers — all the companies showing graphical ads (not just sponsored link text) on WhenU’s system. There are 234 distinct advertisers, by my count. The biggest advertisers (by advertisement count) are Priceline (51 ads), J.P. Morgan Chase (43), Casino On Net (37), Verizon (28), Orexis (24). Major advertisement categories:

Gambling, Betting and Bingo 327 advertisements 49 advertisers
Loans 263 advertisements 35 advertisers
Travel 213 advertisements 21 advertisers

Further down the list, 102 ads for insurance, 99 for sexual health (mostly Viagra and similar products) and even some ads for online psychics and online cigarette sales.

All the details, and thousands of advertisement thumbnails, are in:

Advertisers Using WhenU

Dell’s Spyware Puzzle updated June 9, 2004

Dell Ad Displayed using ClariaDell Ad Displayed using Claria

Lots of companies have a puzzling relationship with spyware. For example, a recent eWeek article pointed out the complexities in Yahoo!’s relationship with Claria: My research of last year found that yahoo.com is the the single most targeted domain of the many thousands Claria targets with its context-triggered popups. More recently, Yahoo! released a toolbar that uninstalls Claria software. These facts suggest that Yahoo! would dislike Claria and would actively oppose Claria’s activities. Nonetheless, Yahoo! remains a major supplier to Claria (via Yahoo!’s Overture sponsored link service, which reportedly provides 30% of Claria’s revenue, per Claria’s S-1 filing).

Even more puzzling, Dell both suffers from spyware and receives web traffic from Claria’s advertising services. In recent comments to the FTC (PDF page 70), Dell’s Maureen Cushman reported that spyware is Dell’s "number one call driver" as of late 2003, and that spyware is responsible for as much as 12% of calls to Dell tech support.

Nonetheless, my testing shows that Dell UK ads run on the Claria ad network. See the ad shown at right (among several other ads also from Dell UK), which I received while viewing the IBM.COM site. My further testing indicates that Claria shows several Dell UK ads when users visit the sites listed below (perhaps among others). (Note that users might have to visit particular parts of the sites listed here — i.e. the computers section of amazon.co.uk, not just other parts of the Amazon site.)


Dell staff tell me that the ads were unauthorized, placed by an affiliate without Dell’s permission. My inspection of the ads (and their link destinations) is consistent with this claim. But my inspection of Claria configuration files further suggests that the ads ran on the Claria network since at least February 6, 2004 — some four months ago. Why didn’t Dell notice this problem until I brought it to their attention?

If this is just a glitch, what procedures could Dell (and other companies) implement to make sure their ads are placed through only authorized channels? I’d be honored to work with interested advertisers to think through the possibilities for automatic or scheduled monitoring, testing, etc.

A note on my research methods: In May-June 2003, I offered a Gator real-time testing service that reported, on request, which ads (if any) targeted a given web site. I have subsequently disabled this site, so it provides only archived data. But I can still provide current Gator targeting data upon request. Interested readers, please get in touch by email.

Expert Declaration in Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Company, LLC, et al. v. the Gator Corporation

I had the honor of preparing two expert declarations in Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Company, LLC, et al. v. the Gator Corporation in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia. My clients were the plaintiffs in the case, including the Washington Post Newsweek Interactive Company, Gannett Satellite Information Network, Media West-GSI, the New York Times Company, the Boston Globe Newspaper Company, Dow Jones, Smartmoney, the Chicago Tribute Interactive, Condenet, American City Business Journals, Cleveland Live, and Knight Riddler Digital.

Soon after my declarations, the case settled, and Gator stopped covering my clients’ sites with its popup advertising and other ads.

My declarations and other case documents.

Documentation of Gator Advertisements and Targeting

The Gator Corporation designs software to display advertisements on users’ computer screens, triggered in part by the specific web sites users visit. The author has developed an automated method of determining which specific advertisements Gator has associated with which web sites, data that may be helpful to web site operators, policy-makers, and others in assessing Gator’s practices. This article offers listings of more than eight thousand specific sites targeted by Gator as well as analysis of the advertisements shown. An interface is also available to let interested Internet users to test Gator’s advertisements on their own.

Documentation of Gator Advertisements and Targeting