Monday, June 12, 2006

"Banner farms" and spyware

Ben Edelman continues his valuable research with an exposure of Hula Direct's "banner farms" which are being used to display banner ads through popups, driven by spyware installations:
Hula cannot write off its spyware-sourced traffic as a mere anomaly or glitch. I have received Hula popups from multiple spyware programs over many months. Throughout that period, I have never arrived at any Hula site in any way other than from spyware -- never as a popup or popunder served on any bona fide web site, in my personal casual web surfing or in my professional examination of web sites and advertising practices. From these facts, I can only conclude that spyware popups are a substantial source of traffic to Hula's sites.
Edelman also notes that most of Hula's ads include JavaScript code or HTML refresh meta tags to automatically reload the ads fairly quickly. The effect is to display more ads, and to show the ads for a shorter time than the advertisers are expecting.

Hula doesn't have a direct relationship with its advertisers (Edelman notes the relationships of cash and traffic flow), but they are being complacent and allowing it to happen. Some of the advertisers: Vonage, Verizon, Circuit City.

Finally, Edelman notes that some of the ad networks being used by Hula have taken notice and started to take action. One ad network, Red McCombs Media, refused to pay a $200,000+ bill from Hula and has been sued by them for breach of contract.


keepingitfair said...

Dear Editor,

I am posting this similar response to many sites online. I feel very sorry for Hula and want to voice my disgust in the untruths that are being spread about Hula Direct, somone needs to say something positive about this company. They have been in the business while and don’t seem to be out to hurt anyone, despite a couple peoples opinion.

In my opinion, the article from Mr. Edelman is based on one man's opinion and seems to be telling half the story.

I can't speak for all advertisers, but I had positive results, and dealing with Hula Direct was a positive experience. They have always been honest and upfront with me.

You guys are suggesting that Hula has all sorts of sites that refresh ads. I only know of three sits that they own that refresh ads,,, and According to the guys over there they also have a successful network that has nothing to do with these sites. A company can own many sites, don’t lump them all into one basket.

Did you know that they had already shut down the group dealing with the Inqwire type site even before Mr. Edelman's article.

Hula Direct is a reputable company that has been unfairly trashed, and it is just not fair. In addition, I noticed that you and others wrote articles about Hula Direct and without even getting comments from them direct. These guys pay their bills and do what they say.

Finally, if I was Hula, I would consider trying to clear its name, this is just another example of how NOT to trust everything you read.

I wish you would present the entire store before slamming a good company.

Shame on you.

Lippard said...

No, shame on you for signing up for a Blogger account for the sole purpose of posting comments to blogs without connecting them to your actual identity, failing to actually refute anything that I reported or that Ben Edelman described from his research. Edelman very carefully documents his claims and backs them up with direct evidence.

If you want to defend Hula, how about backing up your statements with facts and evidence, and providing specific refutation of whatever you claim is untruth?