Oz industry tackles adware

The Internet Industry Association (IIA) and the Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA) will develop guidelines for the proper uses of adware software for advertising and marketing purposes.

While spyware is seen as a dirty word for all Internet users, it should not be confused with adware, according to both organisations. Adware is considered less harmful because it is not used for malicious purposes.

Both groups claimed adware delivers information to website owners about user preferences; lets advertisers meet a user's likely interests; and personalises the user's online experience.

"Adware is not necessarily bad," CEO of IIA, Peter Coroneos, said. "People might want more targeted advertising. Then the question is how we get to that point where marketing can be more selective."

Coroneos said the benefits to consumers could be indirect. For example, if adware led to reduced advertising costs as a result of its selectivity, it could potentially lead to reduced product/service costs for consumers as less money was spent marketing to them.

But for all its perceived benefits to the genuine marketing industry, adware currently falls within a grey area - its intrusiveness can reduce people's confidence and trust in making transactions online.

"Trust becomes important on the Internet. There is a high degree about the need to preserve customer relationships; not annoy that customer," Coroneos said.

To better understand adware, IIA and ADMA will work with groups such as the Australian Consumers Association, the ACCC, Privacy Commission and government agencies.

Ultimately, the goal is for consumers to be aware of what Adware is, and the boundaries the marketers and advertisers will be restricted to.

"We don't want to have to legislate for adware," Coroneos said.

Formal discussions with all parties will begin in early June. Coroneos did not say when he expected an outcome to be achieved.

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