Over the last couple of months we have seen a surge of a company called AdverLinkz targeting small to mid-sized merchants through Zango. They seem to be an “ad network” that will deliver “high quality traffic” for their clients. Although, the information on their site is sketchy and I didn’t see any actual place for advertisers to join. I do find it comforting that they don’t send any traffic from botnets like their competitors though. Yep, I’m rolling my eyes over here. From Whois information, AdverLinkz seems to be related to Focus Interactive Outsourcing Corporation. This may be the site where they recruit clients and AdverLinkz the site where they are running the Zango campaigns.
What I’m seeing is that they are targeting small to mid-size merchants to deliver a pop-up of a competing web site. I’m assuming these are their clients. They frame the merchant’s web site on the Adverlinkz domain. I’ve documented numerous cases of the AdverLinkz pop-ups through Zango. In every case so far, they are specifically targeting the shopping cart URL to deliver the pop-up. The pop-up either covers a majority of or completely covers the shopping cart page of the merchant being targeted. The impact to the merchant being targeted is the end user may potentially leave their web site, resulting in an abandoned shopping cart and lost sale. If the end user initially came to the merchant via an affiliate link, then it could result in a lower EPC and conversion rate in their affiliate program. Affiliates could also potentiallly see a lower conversion for merchants being targeted, depending on how effective the pop-ups are being. I suspect that many of the merchants who are appearing in the pop-ups have no idea how their sites are being promoted and “traffic” delivered to them by AdverLinkz. They also appear to be running a not so small ad budget with Zango. Again, I’ve documented numerous merchants being targeted and it’s not like I’ve been specifically looking for AdverLinkz pop-ups. In a recent test run I performed, they delivered a pop-up on 20% of the URLs I tested and accounted for 50% of the total pop-ups by Zango I recorded. It appears that they may have started this activity sometime in February, at least through the AdverLinkz domain. My recommendation to those merchants who find themselves being targeted is to contact the merchant displayed in the pop-up directly. I do suspect that many merchants being displayed in the pop-ups are unaware they are being promoted through adware. If you are a Merchant and are experiencing a decrease in your conversions, then you may want to investigate if your shopping cart is being targeted for this activity. In these days of Internet marketing, everyone should be careful of from where and how companies deliver traffic. It is a good idea to always keep a close eye own your own server logs to determine traffic sources.