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Earlier today, Zango announced the purchase of SmartShopper.


Our research leads us to believe that one major reason may be as a way for Zango to get an imprimatur of credibility. SmartShopper is in the TRUSTe Trusted Download Program, a fact that the SmartShopper folks are quite proud of, showcasing it prominently on their website. (Incidentally, and of some concern — SmartShopper is not listed on TRUSTe’s main list of trusted applications, but is, in fact, in the Trusted Download program. This is the second occurrence we’ve observed of “quiet” listings in TRUSTe. Correction — faulty memory on my part — this is the only one, which we did write about earlier. )

It’s also no secret that Zango is trying hard to get a Trusted Download certificate for itself. However, will it make any difference, especially in light of the huge sums of money a vendor must pay (reported to be in the hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars)? Probably not. I doubt any advertisers will care. We’ve found that advertisers are quite leery of Zango in general. I doubt Trusted Download will help them.

However, having SmartShopper in their portfolio of applications will allow Zango to point proudly at a product they own in the Trusted Download program. And it’s even in the realm of possibility that by having a Trusted Download like SmartShopper, they could use this as a future way to get Zango on more desktops (by bundling with SmartShopper or by offering SmartShopper users a download of Zango).

It’s worth noting that Zango is primarily gaining new users through Seekmo, its porn branch. In other words, new user acquisition occurs from users downloading porn in exchange for free ads, not for funny videos of a cat jumping up and down. They need everything they can to gain legitimacy.

Alex Eckelberry