The Ethics of Business Practice: Deceptive Advertising

Deceptive Advertising

The business practices of malware companies include a multitude of unscrupulous and deceptive practices to spread their products in order to lure the unsuspecting computer user to purchase or download their products. In that segment of the business community, deceptive practices are wide spread and include the all too familiar “scam and scare tactics,” the “fake spyware-pay to remove” and also “installation of spyware itself.” The intentional false positives are also widespread. The lure of free software contributes to this problem. We’ll address that on another day.

A number of reputable software publishers, including, do have totally free fully functional anti-spyware products and/or also functional full featured products with trial periods that are also fully functional. Paid versions are obviously necessary for any company to develop and maintain quality software. Few companies would be able to survive long term and maintain a product without any type of continuing revenue source.

We are observing a growing problem with the deception of using other names on paid search/keyword advertising to capitalize on the names of acknowledged, credible anti-spyware/anti-malware companies and to imply or actually state that there is something sinister or wrong with that “product.” This practice is being used by some under the guise of “blogging.”

These blog sites, upon luring patrons to their sites by use of the reputable software publisher’s name proceed to praise the virtues of another product in hopes that the customer who has been lured to the site under deception will purchase their promoted product and earn for the blogger a sales commission for product sold. It is not unheard of for the unscrupulous vendors to offer 70% or higher commission on each product sold – quite a bounty to go after for affiliates!

Certainly a legitimate “blogger” is entitled to be paid for his or her opinion of products they promote. However, what is wrong with that approach is the deception in using another company’s good name to lure the unsuspecting customer searching for that specific name to the blog or to other domain site and to also state as part of the ad that there is something about that company that will be “exposed” and that the blog site will reveal why the company’s product should not be purchased.

Claims by companies using such deceptive practices that affiliates are free to advertise products without regard to the practices they use are not credible. Reputable software publishers have absolute control over affiliates because affiliates can only obtain product from the publisher. Without payment of high commissions, in our opinion, bloggers have no incentive to promote the product nor would they do so unless it is the company itself doing the Blog.

Furthermore, it appears that in at least one instance of which we are aware, the blog site is actually hosted on the company’s servers. Thus, this is not an arms length relationship. Reputable software publishers also maintain communication avenues available and respond to issues raised regarding their business practices and defend them when challenged unless there is no defense.

In our opinion, if the business practices of a company are unethical, we believe that tells one much about the company itself and about its products. Attempting to capitalize on other’s names to sell such a product suggests that it is not worthy of purchase on its own merits.

The deceptive business practices of companies using such deceptive advertising continues to amaze us. If someone were using your name in advertising and stating “John Doe is a thief; read about it here,” what would be your reaction?