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Ok, so “desktop software”. I’d say there are three main types: Legitimate, Sketchy and Spyware. Legitimate advertising sponsored desktop software would include programs like Weatherbug or AOL Instant Messenger. Sketchy are most of the ‘toolbars’ that you can download for your browser, e.g. Smiley Central. Spyware are the programs that don’t even have an End User License Agreement (EULA). These could be spread via a virus, internet explorer Active-X controls that don’t require confirmation, or various other methods.

Here’s the thing. Of the three types, there is no damn reason to ever install anything but the first. Sure, you can get “cool smileys”, but what the vast majority of people don’t realize is that if you install the toolbar, you will soon be bombarded with popups. The business model is beautiful, offer some ‘free’ product, make the user agree to some complex legal agreement and then make free money! Popups make crazy cash, especially if they’re tied to your browsing behavior (e.g. show a Travelocity popup when you’re browsinng Expedia)!! Say you’re average desktop software gets on average $10-$20 CPM (CPM -> price you get for every 1000 ads you show). Now lets say your average toolbar will show you 10 ads per day, and in an average year you use your computer for at least 300 days. So, they get to show you 3000 ads in that period, netting them somewhere between $30 and $60! Think of the software you could buy for $60, some cool games, useful productivity things, or even some ‘cool’ things. True, you’re not actually paying the money, but wouldn’t you rather just spend the cash and not get 3k ads on your desktop?

Ok — so how bad is it? Well — thankfully there’s a State of Spyware report that is issued quarterly. Are you ready for it?

87% of consumer machines in the United States are infected with spyware, yes not Eight POINT seven, but EIGHTY SEVEN
Average number of programs on each machine is 29.5 … yes TWENTY-NINE POINT FIVE

Ok, so the report doesn’t specify the number of desktop machines in the United States… but lets just say it’s 100 million.

So… some math:
100,000,000 *.87 * 29.5 = 2,566,500,000 instances of spyare just in the united states.

Lets say each infected machine generates $30-60 in revenue per year — this implies that the industry is worth somewhere between $2.5 to $5 BILLION.

Wow… I’m in the wrong industry. According to MSNBC my math isn’t far off, they quote $2 billion, or 11% of all online spend goes to spyware.

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  • Jared Young

    I realize i’m digging up a dead thread, but I am developing a Hospitality POS. What networks exist(If any.) that are reputable, and that allow developers to show ads on Desktop Applications. The ad would only be seen when the screensaver screen pops up. I want to do this so that I can offer the system for a more affordable rate for my customers. This application was developed with C# and WPF on .net Framework 4.0. I am currently converting it for use on the 4.5 RC which will allow me to use the application on Windows 8. I can put ads from pubcenter in the Windows 8 version. I am planning on launching in 3 months…