Vonage Linked to Spyware

by Bruce Stewart

I'm pretty sure this is one instance where the adage "no press is bad press" doesn't hold. Vonage is now in the news for being tied to multiple spyware campaigns. According to spyware researcher Ben Edelman's latest paper, How Vonage Funds Spyware, Vonage is a major advertiser on just about every large spyware product. Vonage's large advertising budget is legendary and the focus of many analyst's concerns about the company that just can't seem to get a break. But I don't think the realization that they're spending a significant chunk of that advertising money on these unscroupulous spyware scourges is going to do anything but further the negative image Vonage is rapidly achieving, regardless of how effective that kind of advertising is.

Could spyware possibly be an effective advertising channel? It's hard to imagine that it could be, but with the amount of placements Vonage seems to be buying in these programs one would think they must be seeing some kind of decent return.

A few people have jumped to Vonage's defense on this latest charge, noting that with affiliate advertising relationships Vonage may not be dealing directly with spyware companies and it's difficult to control where all your ads end up when you're spending over $20 million a month on advertising. I'm sure that's true but I don't think it gets Vonage off the hook here. If they care about this issue they could do something about it.

This is slightly old news now as I've been battling some hardware problems which caused me to get behind in my posting, but as someone who has spent far too much time battling spyware I couldn't let this one slip by.