Block Kontera and Adware Ad Choice Popups

7

August 1, 2013 by thesoapalchemist

Just a heads up: This isn’t a soap related post.

It’s a post about getting rid of annoying Adware such as AdChoice popups that seem to have invaded my computer recently, and eliminating the accompanying link-style highlighted words in online text that have nothing to do with the text.

I’m a fan of Mozilla’s Firefox browser, and that’s been my choice for all of my computers since abandoning Internet Explorer two years ago. Unfortunately, the coincidence of contracting Trojans, Hijackers and Worms while using Internet Explorer was enough to make me jump ship and try Firefox. While I can’t prove IE actually caused any of them, I haven’t had any issues since switching to Firefox.

If you’re using Firefox, and have experienced Adware issues, it can be really frustrating. The ads pop up from the bottom of my monitor, or throughout the text of whatever I’m reading. Sometimes, when I click on a legitimate link, TWO windows open; one for the site I wanted to visit, and another for an unrelated ad site. My first thought was that I had a virus. So, I used MalwareBytes to scan my computer for infections… and it found nothing. Totally clean. I went to my favorite self-help site for computer viruses, BleepingComputer.com, and followed the instructions on one of their forums for getting rid of adware, but each scan they suggested kept coming up clean.

A little more Googling around, and I’ve figured out why. Apparently, AdChoices (the particular brand of ad-ware I was noticing) is associated with a company named Kontera, and others in their “Collective of Online Marketing Companies” use obnoxious javascript programs to flood your browsing enjoyment with “Relevant Advertising” based on information they collect about you (without your consent) including your ” Internet Protocol (IP) address, web browser type, the URL of the web pages or sites you visit where our Technology is enabled, the date/time you visit those web pages or sites, and URL that of the web page you were on prior to visiting the web page where our Technology is enabled.” (Kontera.com). And here I was, thinking it was a virus! Instead, it’s just a completely legal way to annoy me. Because of this, anti-virus checkers won’t detect it, and really, there’s no “anti-virus” way of getting rid of it. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice any ads until I updated to the latest version of Firefox. Coincidentally, it seems that Kontera’s ad program came along for the ride.

While I’m not thrilled that Firefox allowed this, I guess I understand. It’s a legitimate advertising thing, and a money maker. Thankfully, Firefox was nice enough to give users a way to totally disable it in one easy step.

Use Firefox’s Adblocker add-on:  https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/adblock-plus/

ALL Adware is gone! No more windows popping up trying to sell me something or direct me to unrelated sites. No more “collecting” of my browsing information.

Kontera’s own site allows you to opt out of their scripts, but this won’t save you from all adware. Addtionally, Kontera’s site states that “When you opt out, an opt-out cookie will be placed onto your computer. Please note that if you block cookies, the opt-out process may not function properly.” So for folks like me, who block cookies and have our browsers ask our permission before sharing cookies, Kontera’s convenient “opt out” may not “function properly.”

By disabling adware completely, I don’t have to worry about that. Thanks for the adblocker add on, Firefox!

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7 thoughts on “Block Kontera and Adware Ad Choice Popups

  1. Hi,

    This is Jonathan from Kontera, we’re not a form of adware, we’re just a java script based advertising platform, similar to Google’s AdSense. Also we don’t own Ad Choices, it’s a collective of online marketing companies which give you the ability to control whether you receive interest-based advertising and from which companies. If you don’t want to receive Kontera ads, I’ll you need to do is click on that Ad Choices button from the Kontera layer and it will bring you to a page where you can opt out from seeing our ads.

    • Hi Jonathan.
      Now I’m very confused. According to wikipedia, Adware is “advertising-supported software; any software package which automatically renders advertisements in order to generate revenue for its author. The functions may be designed to analyze which Internet sites the user visits and to present advertising pertinent to the types of goods or services featured there. The term is sometimes used to refer to software that displays unwanted advertisements.”
      To me, that sounds exactly like what I found on Kontera’s website:

      “Kontera specializes in providing consumers with information that is related to what they are reading. We get our revenues by showing editorially relevant ads to consumers. We occasionally show some ads based on additional Non Personally Identifiable Information, such as the types of websites you visit, the ads you view, interactions you’ve had with ads, and searches you conduct on other websites.”

      Couple those with the fact that the popup style advertisements that your company offers are unsolicited “unwanted advertisements,” it sounds awfully similar to adware to me.

      What you call a “Java script based advertising platform,” I call unwanted, unsolicited adware.

      I’m curious about the Kontera/Ad Choice relationship. When I google “Kontera Ad Choices” a Kontera page comes up that has “Ad Choices” as its heading. (http://www.kontera.com/ad-choices). You wrote that Kontera doesn’t own Ad Choices, yet your company has a webpage devoted to explaining how Kontera collects information and uses it to display “relevant ads to consumers” under a heading called “Ad Choices.” There is no explanation on that page about Ad Choices being anything different or separate from Kontera.

      As far as opting out of your company’s ads, I don’t like having to do that. Just as I don’t like having to “unsubscribe” to junk mail, or get on the “Do Not Call Registry” for telemarking calls, I really don’t want to have to opt out of anything. I’d rather opt in. Why doesn’t Kontera make that a choice? Perhaps hit us with ONE, single little pop up that says, “Would you like to Opt In to receiving relevant ads throughout your browsing times that will cover up some of the text you’re trying to read, and make you think you have a virus when you don’t?” Maybe then people would really have a choice.

      While I appreciate your defense of your company, the information I presented will allow people using Firefox to put an end to the popups that interrupt their enjoyment of their browsing time.

  2. Regarding Adware, the software part is what doesn’t apply to Kontera. Adware typically refers to say, you download a game or program off the web onto your desktop, and ads are displayed within that program, which you may or may not have known about ahead of time. Kontera ads are only displayed on your computer when you visit a website, where the publisher put them on their website to generate revenue for themselves. You don’t continue to see Kontera ads when you visit websites that haven’t implemented Kontera ads, and you don’t see Kontera ads anywhere else on your computer other than your web browser.

    Concerning opt in advertising vs. opt out advertising, and how our ads are different than unsolicited e-mails or phone calls, I think TV ads are a better comparison. You’re choosing to visit a website where your interested in their content, and the publisher of that website is asking you in return, if you see an ad that’s relevant to your interests, to click on it and help support their site, so they can afford to bring you more great content. Just like with TV, which at this point with DVRs you can fast forward through ads, there are ways to not see ads online, and Kontera is happy to provide an opt out option.

    However, in terms of making ads opt in, I’ve seen a handful of publishers make the advertising on their site opt in, and that’s how it should, the decision of the publisher. It’s their digital real estate, and they’re either trying to make a living or supplemental income off their content, so it should be up to them how their advertising is presented.

    With the Ad Choices/Kontera relationship, since the page you were looking at was on the Kontera website, Ad Choices was only being brought up in the context of Kontera. We do disclose that we’re members of the Network Advertising Initiative on that page, and offer to let you opt out of seeing ads from all of those companies. Additionally, if you go to the Ad Choices website, there’s a long list of participating companies: http://www.youradchoices.com/participants.aspx

    People who want to opt out can do it which ever way they’re most comfortable with; personally I just think opting out through the Ad Choices button is the easiest, and works regardless of which browser you’re using.

  3. Kontera has a variety of different products, and among advertisers at this point we’re know more as a big data content marketing company, but among end users I think it’s fair to say we’re still best known for the in-content advertising you were describing above. Our ads are user initiated, meaning they’re displayed as double underlined links under a keyword or phrase in the text of the article, and the user only sees the actual ad, if they scroll over the keyword with their mouse. We always double underline the phrase to differentiate it from non-advertising links. I would slightly disagree with you categorizing these ads as links not put there by the publisher, in that they only appear on the webpage if the publisher implements Kontera on their site.

    (By the way, the way we display ads on touchscreen devices is even more noteworthy, you need to virtually peal away the article from the side corner of the screen for the actual ad to appear. There’s some interesting and fluid animation involved )

    Regarding Googling the phrase “Kontera pop-up ads”, a couple of things. First of all, I think the term “pop up ads” generally has a negative connotation, at the very least we’ve never referred to ourselves as that so the results are somewhat self selecting. If you Googled Kontera with a different keyword, you’d get a different sentiment.

    More to the point however, looking at the links you’re asking about, a number of them are actually just generic ads for malware software. What they do is they want to press on people the need to download their software (which is often itself really malware), so they write an article saying how this thing is infecting your computer and you need their help in getting rid of it. There’s no genuine sentiment about Kontera being represented, and often they just use one article over and over again, inserting the name of a different ad network each time.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there’s aren’t people you genuinely dislike our ads, there’s no form of advertising that’s universally accepted. However, we commissioned a study by ComScore, the leading digital measurement firm, and Kontera ads were actually found by consumers to be one of the least intrusive forms of online advertising. You can look at further results from that study here: http://kontera.com/about/press-item/comprehensive-comscore-study-delivers-5-times-greater-brand-awareness-and-4

  4. Nili Marcia says:

    Hi Erin,

    Robin Raygor from GoDaddy was not able to help me with the problem I was having of ads appearing in my blog but he sent me a link to this article since the problem you solved and the one I was having seemed identical.

    I tried the solution which worked for you, the adblocker addon but it didn’t do the job. I had identified a suspicious outgoing link (js.bunchofads) from a report of all the links on my site but didn’t know what to do next.

    Thanks to what you wrote in your post and the conversation with the guy from Kontera I got a clue and searched through the code of my posts until I found the link. There were two copies in two different posts. Once I eliminated the links all the ads disappeared. Yay!

    I haven’t yet been able to find the program which put them there but at least I now know how to remove them if more should show up. You’ve probably got a link like this too in the code of one or more posts.

    Just wanted to say thank you for writing about this. You helped me solve my problem. I already thanked Robin.

    best wishes,
    Nili

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Nili. Robin’s a sweetheart. 🙂 Even though I didn’t give you a solution this time, I’m happy that my post at least gave you a stepping off point. And– you fixed your problem!!! That’s an accomplishment. You should treat yourself to something special for a job well done! Thanks again! Erin

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