Several companies that have contacted PC Pitstop are puzzled how they could be associated with Gator when they honestly don’t believe their company does business with Gator Corporation. Our first thought was that there was simply someone else in the organization responsible for advertising through the Gator Advertising Information Network (GAIN), or perhaps that a third-party ad agency they hired was responsible for placing Gator advertising. (For example, adware has caused concern for companies such as Toyota.) However, we have found another way that many companies may unwittingly be advertising on Gator through its partnership with Overture and the Search Scout feature.
Overture’s service allows businesses to “purchase keywords” so that an ad will show up when users search for that word. Several large sites such as MSN and Yahoo use Overture to show these text-based ads. Google has a similar program on its own search site called AdWords. On their own, these keyword-based ads can be a useful and beneficial way for businesses to reach potential customers, and for consumers to find products and services. However, Overture’s recent use of Gator has changed the equation.
In April 2003, Gator and Overture announced a three-year partnership for Gator to show Overture ads. Gator’s software monitors the user’s activity on web sites and search engines (even sites such as Google that are not affiliated with Overture) and grabs search keywords for use in its own search engine. As a result, advertisers who have paid for listings in Overture may find their products advertised in a pop-under window through Gator’s Search Scout, even if they want nothing to do with Gator.
Here are several other pages where others express their concern for the partnership between Gator and Overture and the effect it is having on advertisers:
- Overture – “That’s right – now thousands of blissfully ignorant Overture advertisers will have their ads appear in annoying pop-ups and pop-unders, courtesy of Gator’s obnoxious Search Scout software….”
- JimWorld – “Yes, your hard-fought for keyword positions are no longer simply being shown as part of search results on most of the major search engines as supplement to a relevant search. They’re now being injected and forced into the face of unsuspecting Gator users.”
- Overture PPC Review – “Informal research indicates that Overture advertising offers a ROI almost as good as Google’s AdWords. However, Overture has partnered with Gator Corp. There is no effective measure of the risk of alienating web savvy visitors …”
- Overture: Greedy 2 Ways – “I got an email from a woman yesterday who had one of our ads pop up on her desktop. … There is so much bad “karma” associated with Gator and similar sneaky software that she not only didn’t believe me, but went on to say that she would NEVER purchase anything from us and was going to tell everyone she knew do do the same.”
Overture customers that do not want to be associated with Gator should let Overture know that they do not want to be included in Gator Search Scout results.