"Interesting" Advert Placements On Facebook

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I've had a few people mention "odd things" happening when trying to install an application on Facebook called "Gridview". Well, I decided to try it out. On the install screen, you see this:

gview7.jpg

Makes sense so far. Here's the install screen where you agree to let the application loose on your profile:

gview8.jpg

Click to Enlarge

Once done, you see the following screen and this is where it all starts to go a bit wrong:

gview6.gif

Click to Enlarge

Note that the application is ALREADY installed by this point, because the Gridview icon is on your list of current applications (highlighted by the red box on the left).

However, top right (also highlighted) is a box made to look like a standard Facebook "continue" button. When installing the application for the first time, this caught me out too - I didn't notice the app was already installed and (naturally enough) clicked the "continue" button, thinking there was something else I needed to do to complete the installation.

Imagine my confusion, then, when I was suddenly presented with this:

gview2.jpg

Click to Enlarge

A page asking me to download "Mothers Day E-cards", via IAC (creators of Smiley Central, amongst other things). By this point, you've left the Facebook network completely and are sitting on a page served up by an advertising network - go back to the Facebook screenshot above and check out the URL at the bottom of the browser. That's the actual destination of the "Continue" button.

That's a pretty sneaky tactic, if you ask me.

What needs to be established is, who is responsible for the placement of the fake "Continue" button? Is it the creator of the application, or is it legitimate advertising space on Facebook being subverted in a rather creative fashion by an advertising agency promoting IAC products?

I've tried reinstalling the application a few times, and the graphic displayed sometimes changes to more overt "this is an advert" style banners leading to other sites offering similar downloads / offers. Other applications installed don't seem to display sneaky adverts like that in the same location, but every application install is somewhat different so that's not really a conclusive answer.

At any rate, be wary of what you click on when installing Facebook applications...

2 Comments

I, as the founder of GridView, are very concerned about the assertion that GridView is involved in any sort of ?odd things? in GridView. I hate spyware as much as everyone and I am very concerned that one of the advertising networks used by GridView links to these type of things despite Facebook?s policy against it. This ad, including the deceptive continue button, were rendered by an advertising network inside an iframe. GridView has no control over the content of these advertising networks, including 3rd party cookies. I agree that this is sneaky and I will be asking the ad network about their practices of both the continue button and linking to spyware. Furthermore I will be revaluating the sign up process, with the possibility of not displaying ads on the first install of the application. Advertising in general is necessary to keep many websites afloat, and GridView is no exception. Thank you for posting this official response.

Chris,

I've been forgetting to set my url....my website at the time being is Facebook. I've posted the other comments on social networking...

Everyone,

Hey it's good to see the developer responding to a explanation of this suspicious behaviour. Unfortunately, Facebook doesn't have control over what ad networks use as an ad, exept for their terms of service.

I like the developers compromise to not display adds on the first screen of the install, as well as his willingness to contact the ad network about this site redirection.

I blog and warn friends and business contacts via my Facebook site which will be ported to my business domain soon....

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This page contains a single entry by Christopher Boyd published on July 3, 2008 7:45 PM.

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