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Pinball Publisher Network

Here’s something they don’t teach in marketing 101: If you’re pushing software that no one wants — like, say, annoying adware — and your downloads are going nowhere, what do you do?

Answer: you push somebody else’s popular software and bundle your junkware with it.

Remember Zango? It was that irritating adware company that spent years and a million weasel words trying to make its operation seem legitimate. It was fined $3 million in 2006 by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and it unsuccessfully sued anti-virus vendor Kaspersky in Federal Court in 2007 for calling the Zango malcode “malcode?” After several years of sagging revenue amidst a larger collapse of the adware industry, the company finally folded and sold its assets at fire sale prices last April. (Sunbelt Blog story here. )

The buyer, Pinball Publisher Network, is still distributing Zango and sadly enough it still offers users nothing of any value, which is why PPN offers Open Office, 7-Zip and Firefox bundled with it. PPN and its affiliates are simply trying to piggyback on those programs and in the process, leech from their value and good name.

Here’s what its fans get:

“Hotbar’s toolbar for IE, Outlook/Outlook Express and Word provides FREE access to premium content including weather, paid for by advertising. Based on keywords generated by your browsing, Hotbar shows ads in a separate browser window or a temporary Slider, and toolbar search suggestions. ShopperReports provides comparison shopping offers in a Sidebar. Both run continuously and update automatically. Uninstall easily via Add/Remove Programs.”

AND how do you suppose Pinball Network affiliates are persuading people to install adware-laden software that can be had free and clean of Pinball’s software elsewhere on the Net? Here’s a cynical bit of advice from a user on a forum where affiliates discuss their experiences with PPI (pay per install) programs such as Pinball Publisher Network:

“if your users use IE tell them they need firefox to see the website and bingo $$$ pinball is so easy to make money with. All you need is sites that users are looking to download things. Alot of sites are loosing money using silly fill me in to unblock me content, i mean if your users are looking to download they will download!”

VIPRE detects this adware application as “Pinball Corporation. (v)”. Since the installer basically loads all the old Zango files, users who happen across it will probably see VIPRE detecting “Zango” and “Hotbar” as well.

Thanks Adam Thomas and Eric Howes and big hat tip goes to Wendy Ivanoff for getting spammed with this crap and bringing it to our attention

Tom Kelchner