Ask dotTechies: What are your thoughts on third party offers/advertisements bundled with program installers?

Day by day we are seeing an increasing number of program installers coming bundled with third party offers/advertisements. Why? Simply because these third party offers/advertisements allow developers to take advantage of a business model that differs from the traditional make-money-by-selling-software mindset and enters the freeware-but-ad-supported system (shareware/commercial software that have third party offers/advertisements are just plain pathetic). After all, freeware developers are only human and they also desire to make money – can’t really blame them for that. The problem is adverts in program installers are notoriously unpopular among users.

Users have come to accept adverts on websites (although some users do block them, most realize that ads are needed to keep a website alive). So, then, why are ads in programs so hated? Isn’t the principle the same – adverts in program installers are needed to keep freeware alive, right? Well the root cause of the problem lies in the fact that adverts bundled in installers started off with useless – and often dangerous and malicious – programs being offered in the ads. While this is now changing, as developers realize that advertisements in programs are potentially a good money maker they are trying to get legitimate advertisers instead of undesirable ones, that sinking feeling about adverts being malicious in installers is still there among users. Plus it doesn’t help that many users often accidentally and unknowingly install third party/unrelated programs because many adverts are opt out instead of opt in.

So, then, that brings me to the main question of this article: What are your thoughts on third party offers/advertisements bundled with program installers? Do you support and encourage them, do you dislike and discourage them, do you dislike but accept them, etc.? To get the discussion started, I will share my opinion first.

As a website owner, I realize how critical advertisements are as a source of revenue. So, I support adverts in software installers (for freebie or freeware software only – not paid/commercial software) simply because freeware/freebie software developers need a source of revenue also. However, the software offerings in the adverts need to be

  • 100% legitimate (not malicious or harmful in any way, shape, form, or fashion)
  • Opt in (the best way to do this is to have neither “Yes install this” or “No don’t install this” selected by default – let the user select which one they want)
  • Clearly labeled as not being a part of the software the user originally downloaded to install

That said, what is your opinion in the matter? Feel free to share in comments below.

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