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  1. #1
    Full Member asr_guy's Avatar
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    Pronto by InterActive Corp. - good or bad?
    Hi folks,
    I came across this recently announced little gem of a desktop price comparison "helper" app. at www.pronto.com

    This guy is questioning it:
    http://seo.canadian.com/index.php?/a...sion-Game.html

    If you follow the money it usually explains a few things. I'm wondering how they make their money... anyone checked it out yet?

    Cheers,
    Peter
    [URL=http://www.typoassassin.com/?utm_source=abestweb&utm_medium=forum&utm_content=p&utm_campaign=sig]Are these affiliates stealing from you?[/URL]

  2. #2
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    I had a look prompto at this comparison site. Don't like it but I can't find anything wrong for now.
    You have a review here:
    http://www.comparisonengines.com/?p=275

  3. #3
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    IAC owns AskJeeves.

    They also own this:
    http://www.intermute.com/spyware/MySearch.html

    And they either own these, or have been known to bundle their crapola with these:
    AskJeeves Toolbar / Ask Jeeves / Smiley Central / MyWebSearch / iMesh / WeatherBug / MyWay Search / iWon / Aornum / iWon Plus / Ornum / iWon toolbar / iWon Prize Machine/ Ask Jeeves Bar / Excite Speedbar / iWon Co-Pilot / My Global Search / My Search Bar / My Speedbar / My Web Search Toolbar / Need2Find Toolbar / CursorMania / FunBuddyIcons / HistorySwatter / MyFunCards / My Mail Signature / My Mail Stationary / PopSwatter / Popular Screensavers / Smiley Central / Fun Web Products

  4. #4
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    It's just a matter of time. Once they have the control of your computer they can do whatever they want. It's what they are looking for if you download their comparison kit. An other way to infest your PC.

    You're right Donuts, IAC owns AskJeeves and all these crappy spyware downloads but they have much more in their portfolio.
    http://www.iac.com/
    Ask Jeeves, Inc. / Citysearch / Cornerstone Brands, Inc. / Domania / Entertainment Publications / Evite / GetSmart / Gifts.com / HSN / HSE24 / iNest / Interval International / LendingTree / Match.com / PRC / RealEstate.com / ReserveAmerica / ServiceMagic / Ticketmaster / udate.com

  5. #5
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    IAC is quite a large company with lots of properties. A sign of the times. I had *heard* a few weeks ago that they had joined CJ as a publisher which made me raise an eyebrow and wonder where CJ links might start showing up. Guess we know now.

    The only way to know for sure how their software behaves is to test it. Looking at the information on their site, it looks like testing is warranted to see how the software actually behaves. Just from the info on their site, it looks like they are going down a road with behavior that I'm starting to see as a trend with apps that really isn't covered by Networks but I have concerns about for affiliates.

    Anyway, I have them tagged for testing and will reserve any judgement until I've seen them in action. I'll let you know what I find.

  6. #6
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    I'm pretty sure they are going to behave for a while. I'm an affiliate of ServiceMagic at LinkShare. I should say I was, I'm removing my links.
    Don't want to have anything to do with a company linked to Fun Web Products, or My Web Search Toolbar. I'm not in that business to help people investing in spyware.

  7. #7
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Glad your putting this Adwhore operation on your radar and compliance testing cue Ms.B. Looks like they have a stake in every sleazy touch point (grope em & rope em) a consumer might encounter online. They prey upon the children. They prey upon merchants though the easily bribed AM firms and networks. They epitomize why those in the online advertising industry are held in the public's mindset one step above those in the sex slavery market and below the ethics of lawyers and politicians.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  8. #8
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    I'm not a fan of other Ask Jeeves products and practices. Recall their installations on kids sites, euphemisms, failure to affirmatively show a EULA. (See http://www.benedelman.org/spyware/in...jeeves-banner/ .) And I've also seen their software installed without consent, through a security exploit. (See http://www.benedelman.org/news/050205-1.html .) These episodes call into question their ethics and practices generally.

  9. #9
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Thumbs down
    Quote Originally Posted by bedelman
    I'm not a fan of other Ask Jeeves products and practices. Recall their installations on kids sites, euphemisms, failure to affirmatively show a EULA. (See http://www.benedelman.org/spyware/in...jeeves-banner/ .) And I've also seen their software installed without consent, through a security exploit. (See http://www.benedelman.org/news/050205-1.html .) These episodes call into question their ethics and practices generally.
    Ben's that's just a more politically corrected version of what I said. Smily Central and all the privacy peddling fronts they operate should win them a Ben & Ms.B Adwhore Award. Rumor has it they encourage biting the heads off Geikos and selling fuel to every BHO perp out there via cookied keywords gas pumps.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  10. #10
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kellie aka Ms. B
    I had *heard* a few weeks ago that they had joined CJ as a publisher which made me raise an eyebrow and wonder where CJ links might start showing up.
    I heard this rumor too. But it was as "RedCarpet" subsidiary of IAC, not Pronto. We should watch for them both.

  11. #11
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    I heard it as IAC itself. But then that's the nature of *hearing* things.

    Anyway, I have it installed and have taken an initial look. So far, it's pretty interesting. But I like to withhold an opinion until I've gotten what I consider a complete picture to minimize any potential bias in testing.

    I don't have an Adwhore Award. I prefer to recognize that which is right. My first award along those lines will be going out next month.

  12. #12
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    Kellie - Anyway, I have it installed and have taken an initial look. So far, it's pretty interesting.
    You're teasing us, Kellie. We can't wait!

  13. #13
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    You caught me! Actually, I have several things on the burner at the moment, so I'm squeezing this in between other things. And yep, I'm teasing ya again.

    I really don't like making statements off of just initial observations because often times they are off the mark. More test runs are required.

  14. #14
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Just a note. Per Pronto, what is out there now is a beta version. So what is seen now may not be what is seen down the road with it.

  15. #15
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    Results of Pronto Testing
    Sorry for the delay, but I have testing results for you.

    This is a stand alone application, it is not just a browser plug-in, toolbar, etc. There is an actual user interface, ability for the user to set preferences (I tested with the default prefs), the ability to start and stop the software, etc. The default is for it to run in background with an icon in the systray. Clicking the icon will pull up the user interface.

    The application has a built in browser. There is also the ability for the end user to search for products directly through the interface. It is appears to be primarily a shopping comparison application. At least what is happening so far. The pronto web site mentions notifying of 'deals' but I have not seen any type of coupon/deal type promotions yet. Thus far all I've seen are price comparison listings. These are pronto's own listings (i.e. they are not using another price comparison engines listings). IAC certianly has the ability to do this type of spidering/maintaining of a product db. There is also a 'price alert' feature where you can set a price for a product to recieve notification if a merchant drops the price to your desired price. I did not test this function of the software yet.

    You can see the full test summary of behavior as well as screenshots of the software here.

    The only affiliate links I've seen so far are for CJ and ChannelAdvisor. ChannelAdvisor announces their affiliation with Pronto on their homepage. As there is no Merchant List per se for pronto, there may be other networks partnered but they just didn't come up in my testing. Although I did go fishing for other Networks. Pronto is new and is still in beta, so I wouldn't be surprised to see this change over time. Also many of the listings do not appear to be monetized but rather direct links to the merchant. When I did see affiliate links they were at the top of the listings labeled as "Sponsored Listings". I did see a rather large number of merchants who are included in their db, but again just not necessarily obviously monetized at this time nor connected with affiliate links although many/most of those merchants have affiliate programs.

    The most significant things I'd like to point out from an affiliate's perspective:

    The software appears to focus and be triggered not by merchant.com but rather by specific products themselves. I saw no activity by the software while on merchant.com but did when navigating to merchant.com/productdetailpage.html

    I saw no evidence of forced clicks or automatic redirects with the software. Rather a slider prompt happens stating pronto has price comparisons for that product or similar products. If you click on the slider, the pronto software opens with the listings in their built-in browser. Those listings may or may not contain an affiliate link. If you click on a listing, it will open a tabbed browser to the merchant for that product. If it's an aff link for the listing, then pronto's tracking cookie is set of course.

    On the surface the seems like better behaved software. The end user actually has to do 2 physical clicks before pronto's affiliate tracking will happen. The problem arises (for me at least) when the software doesn't stand down but will still give the slider prompt at the merchant's web site when the traffic orginating from another affiliate (direct network link or server-side link with afsrc=1).

    This is behavior I've started to see with a few applictions and something I've been talking about with some Networks. What seems to be happening here, JMO of course, is that some folks are having their software not do automatic redirects and requiring more than one physical click (i.e. being compliant). The price for those physical clicks however is they will prompt for that click on other affiliate's traffic. IMO this is an end around to the COC and blatant disregard for what the intent of the COC was supposed to be...non-interference with another affiliate's relationship with the merchant via the software. And in cases where the prompt is "Do you want to earn 5% back on this purchase..click here" (not talking pronto here), then what will most end users do? Of course they are going to click the prompt which in turns overwrites the original referring affiliate's tracking. In my mind, this situation actually puts affiliate's sales/traffic more at risk than the application that does automatic redirects but will stand down when the referring traffic to the merchant is a direct Network link or server-side link with afsrc=1. This is just something I'm starting to see that affiliates should be aware of.

  16. #16
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    Thank you for taking the time to test this application, Kellie. I appreciate.

  17. #17
    Full Member asr_guy's Avatar
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    Hi Kellie,
    Thanks for fitting this testing and reporting in to your schedule.

    I can imagine most affiliates and merchants are thinking "so does Pronto hurt affiliates?".

    Re your observation "The end user actually has to do 2 physical clicks before pronto's affiliate tracking will happen.", would you agree that affiliates who send traffic to merchants where this occurs have a higher chance to lose their commissions on traffic they sent? To me this is a bottom line ROI issue for affiliates and merchants to consider.

    Regards,
    Peter
    [URL=http://www.typoassassin.com/?utm_source=abestweb&utm_medium=forum&utm_content=p&utm_campaign=sig]Are these affiliates stealing from you?[/URL]

  18. #18
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    This is an example of domainless affiliates poaching sales with automation programs circumventing network TOS. Sole purpose is to not have to build promotional web pages and attack at the vulnerable point of sale. All I can say is merchant beware as this type affiliate will be hawking your competitors products while using smoke and mirrors to make you assume their a loyal trusted affiliate.

    More interesting, considering the unmentionable sites long thread spotlighting the networks exec's and staff using proprietary info to compete with their own affiliates, is this is just another tool threatening to marginalize all domain bound affiliates. Closing down legit normal affiliates earning power and influence, by scraping their successful conversion secrets, was the network's and Super Affiliates prime moves made in 2005. As soon as the conversion driving info is scrapped by the network insiders practicing affiliate marketing & SEM arbritrige on the side, plus the merchant's own clickstream datamining and network stats, the AM's let the the commission drops cull their herd of affiliate marketers. The sooner CJ -Linkshare -Performics and Befree can wash their hands of supporting non-automated affiliates the better for them. They desire, automate and fund, any and all forms of point of sale attack dogs to free themselves from reliance upon domain bound traffic growth and conventional value-add affiliate marketing. If Pronto can kill off a bunch of traditional affiliates, be easily cloned and integrated into other BHO partnerships it will have the blessings of network management.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

  19. #19
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    Great work Kellie.

    Another BHO to keep the security software people in business.

    It's a big cycle.


  20. #20
    Defender of Truth, Justice and the Affiliate Way
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    would you agree that affiliates who send traffic to merchants where this occurs have a higher chance to lose their commissions on traffic they sent? To me this is a bottom line ROI issue for affiliates and merchants to consider.
    When compared to software that will stand down (i.e. not do anything at all) on traffic to the merchant's site that is obviously coming from another affiliate, I would have to say yes. There would seem to be a higher chance to lose their commission. Either by potentially overwriting the tracking to the same merchant or directing the consumer away to a different merchant depending on what links are presented to the consumer. And I have to wonder what the say TopMoxie apps are thinking about this. They are required to keep their software inactive but these other one's aren't. If the software like Pronto start gaining marketshare, I wonder what kind of response we will see from the other adware applications in the way their software behaves. It's highly competitve in the adware market these days and a fight for control of the desktop and browser.

    Another BHO to keep the security software people in business.
    It's actually not a BHO. I don't know if Pronto would wind up falling into the removal apps definitions for detection and removal. Unless it starts showing up through questionable distribution methods, then maybe. If not then I doubt it would be detected by the reputable security software. I was just reading about how the major security companies are coming together to set up standards for testing, sampling, etc. And that they would be turning to the Anti-Spyware Coalition's definitions. I don't think those cover revenue generating issues but rather focus on things like privacy, keylogging, drive-by installs, ability to uninstall, etc.

  21. #21
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    IAC owns AskJeeves.

    They also own this:
    http://www.intermute.com/spyware/MySearch.html

    And they either own these, or have been known to bundle their crapola with these:
    AskJeeves Toolbar / Ask Jeeves / Smiley Central / MyWebSearch / iMesh / WeatherBug / MyWay Search / iWon / Aornum / iWon Plus / Ornum / iWon toolbar / iWon Prize Machine/ Ask Jeeves Bar / Excite Speedbar / iWon Co-Pilot / My Global Search / My Search Bar / My Speedbar / My Web Search Toolbar / Need2Find Toolbar / CursorMania / FunBuddyIcons / HistorySwatter / MyFunCards / My Mail Signature / My Mail Stationary / PopSwatter / Popular Screensavers / Smiley Central / Fun Web Products
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeus
    It's just a matter of time. Once they have the control of your computer they can do whatever they want. It's what they are looking for if you download their comparison kit. An other way to infest your PC.

    You're right Donuts, IAC owns AskJeeves and all these crappy spyware downloads but they have much more in their portfolio.
    http://www.iac.com/
    Ask Jeeves, Inc. / Citysearch / Cornerstone Brands, Inc. / Domania / Entertainment Publications / Evite / GetSmart / Gifts.com / HSN / HSE24 / iNest / Interval International / LendingTree / Match.com / PRC / RealEstate.com / ReserveAmerica / ServiceMagic / Ticketmaster / udate.com
    IAC / InterActive (Ask Jeeves) just bought ShoeBuy.com
    http://www.internetretailer.com/dailyNews.asp?id=17460
    (ShoeBuy.com is a BeFree/CJ program if I remember that correctly)
    ShoeBuy.com is #120 internet retailer on the Top 400 Guide to Internet Retailers.

    Anyone still wondering if crapware is profitable?

  22. #22
    Affiliate Manager wwalter's Avatar
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    More followup. Pronto is getting some press time:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/27/te...gy/27ecom.html
    John Walter
    Backcountry.com
    wwalter at backcountry.com
    P 801-746-7580
    [URL=http://www.Backcountry.com]www.Backcountry.com[/URL] | [URL=http://www.backcountryoutlet.com]www.backcountryoutlet.com[/URL] | [URL=http://www.tramdock.com]www.tramdock.com[/URL] | [URL=http://www.dogfunk.com]www.dogfunk.com[/URL] | [URL=http://www.steepandcheap.com]www.steepandcheap.com[/URL]
    We use the gear we sell.

  23. #23
    OPM and Moderator Chuck Hamrick's Avatar
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    What gets me is that arrogance of their response in the article, then I followed the money trail. From Hooversonline.com: http://www.hoovers.com/iac/--ID__529...actsheet.xhtml

    IAC/InterActiveCorp (IAC), formerly USA Interactive, satisfies shop-a-holics who fantasize about taking in a show, meeting the right partner, and financing a home. The Internet conglomerate owns HSN (formerly Home Shopping Network), which pipes on-air sales reps into more than 136 million homes worldwide. IAC owns US ticket retailer Ticketmaster and its Citysearch Web-based city guides. In August 2005 IAC spun off its online travel subsidiary Expedia to shareholders. USA Interactive was primarily a media firm until it sold its entertainment assets to Universal Studios (then Vivendi UNIVERSAL Entertainment) in May 2002. IAC bought Ask Jeeves (since renamed Ask.com) in mid-2005.

    2005 Sales (mil.)$5,753.7


    Walt take them out of any of our programs.
    Last edited by Chuck Hamrick; March 27th, 2006 at 08:37 PM.

  24. #24
    2005 Linkshare Golden Link Award Winner  ecomcity's Avatar
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    Nice followup and money trail research on just one tentacle of the Adwhore IAC Octopus. Seems like a prime target for Spitzer and the FTC to look into for practicing .. rape the shopper on the merchants dime. Smells of a privacy info peddling circle jerk.

    Guess my radar was right when challanging IncentaClick ( or some other CPA blind network) for lauding CitySearch as a great B2B new client. I just remembered them taking some of my clients to the cleaners years ago.
    Webmaster's... Mike and Charlie

    "What have you done today to put real value into a referral click...from a shoppers viewpoint!"

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