Do publishers have the right to control the ads that appear on their websites? A controversial company doesn’t think so and has been injecting billions of unauthorized ads into websites like AOL, the BBC and The New York Times.
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The company, Sambreel Holdings, first made news a year ago for hijacking ads on Google and Facebook. Its aggressive tactics drain revenue from the companies and confuse consumers, many of whom are unaware when Sambreel installs itself on their computer. And now the company is spreading quickly and threatening to cause havoc in the online ad market.
How it works
Sambreel, on the surface, offers programs with names like Page Rage or Drop Down Deals that promise to improve consumers’ web surfing experience by customizing web pages or providing special deals. The real purpose of these programs, however, is to serve as vehicles for injecting adware that replaces publishers’ ads with those served by Sambreel.
The result is that consumers see pages like the ones shown below. In the first example, Sambreel has pushed a premium Louis Vuitton ad further down the New York Times homepage and replaced it with an ad for something called “Pickle.” In the second, a prime CNN ad has been replaced by an ad served by a Sambreel browser extension called BuzzDock (a New York publishing executive showed us the takeover ads in action and supplied the screenshots):