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People often get adware on their systems through their kids.  Children don’t read EULAs.  They want the funny “punch the monkey” video, so they click away.  That’s why advertising adware to children is considered a Bad Thing.

Last night, Eric Howes, Sunbelt’s director of malware research, was testing an application and did a search on “kids games”. He saw this advertisement:

Games for Kids
Free online games from Zango games. No trial periods, no locked levels, no purchase or subscription required. Get immediate, unlimited access to deluxe game versions for free.

And checking again this morning, I see the following by simply searching “kids games” on Altavista:


Clicking the link takes you to the landing page on this second screenshot — note the keyword bid info in the URL. It’s quite apparent that 180 knows that they’re targeting kids, and Overture/Yahoo knows they’re doing it, too.  Logs here. 


Check this article (near the end) for Daniel Todd denying that 180 targets kids:

“There is a general misnomer that game sites are kid sites,” he said, adding that 180 Solutions doesn’t target children.

So what is the truth?

Alex Eckelberry

[As it turns out, adware vendors do use search engines to target kids. Direct Revenue’s business records indicate that it buys ads from both Google and Yahoo. And this article finds that many top search results and ads, for one top keyword, yield spyware and other unwanted software — and estimates that Google makes millions of dollars per year from these types of ads. (Thanks Ben).]