Why Are Banner Ads Showing Up On Popular Websites Like Apple.com & Bing.com?

display-ad-featuredAccording to a recent Ars Technica article, two CMA Communications customers have reported banner ads being injected directly into webpages on popular websites, and they are blaming the ISP.

Earlier this year, Robert Silvie and Zachary Henkel noticed banner ads running along the bottom of pages belonging to companies like Apple, Walmart, Target, Bing and eBay. Both Silvie and Henkel were using Internet service provider CMA Communications when they spotted the suspicious banner ads.

Knowing that Bing didn’t run commodity banner ads at the bottom of its home page, Silvie first thought it was the result of a malware infection.

Bing with At&t banner ad

Screen capture of banner ad on Bing.com from zmhenkel.blogspot.com

Henkel, a computer science PhD student, was browsing Apple.com on his MacBook Pro when he noticed an H&R Block display ad running along the bottom of the site. Writing about the experience on his person blog, Henkel feared, “…that either Apple had entered in to the worst cross-promotional deal ever, or my computer was infected with some type of malware. Unfortunately, I would soon discover there was a third possibility, something much worse.”

Apple with H&R block ad

Screen capture of banner ad on Apple.com from zmhenkel.blogspot.com

Thinking his MacBook Pro was infected, Henkel immediately checked other devices on the same Internet connection. All rendered the same styled bottom of page banner ads. According to his blog, Henkel conducted a number of investigations to determine the source of the banner ads. He discovered that Web requests were being sent through a Squid proxy server run by a R66T, where extra ad code was being input.

Silvie, having a similar reaction to Henkel, used Fiddle, a traffic inspection application, which helped him identify that websites not served up over an encrypted HTTPS included banner ads that appeared to be coming from R66T.com.

The Ars Technica article cites that R66T defines itself as a publisher of targeted content, information and advertising for private Wi-Fi and high-speed Internet access networks that support place which often provides free access in exchange for displaying local ads; but, both Silvie and Henkel were seeing the banner ads from a paid Internet connection.

When Silvie and Henkel blocked access to R66T domains, the ads stopped. Suspecting CMA Communications had partnered with R66T, Henkel filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on March 19, but was told that the issue did not fall under the FCC’s jurisdiction, and to contact the Federal Trade Commission.

At the time of Ars Technica’s story, neither CMA nor R66T had given any specific response to the whether or not the banner ads were the result of a partnership between the two companies.

(tip Ars Technica)

Related Topics: Channel: Display Advertising | Display Advertising | Domaining | Legal: General | Legal: Privacy

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About The Author: is Third Door Media's General Assignment Correspondent, and reports on the latest news and updates for Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs.com, SoftwareCEO.com, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy's articles.

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  • http://mithunonthe.net/ Mithun Divakaran

    I have been getting ads too on my Macbook Pro! I kept wondering it was malware so I ran Avast and it detected a few ad server plugins which I removed. But some still persist. Let me check for R66T.

  • http://hotblogtips.com/ Brian D. Hawkins

    I hate to sound silly but is it possible that it’s Firefox? I just did a clean install on a new system yesterday and adware was installed with the Firefox browser that appeared in Firefox, Chrome and even my Android smart phone. I didn’t check the permissions close enough and allowed the ads.Banner ads were even showing up on Facebook photos while using Chrome. I also had an issue of new apps being installed without permission on my phone. Very frustrating. Anyone installing a fresh copy of Firefox will see the things being added by going to the “custom” option when installing.

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