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Warner Bros axes deal with adware maker

180 turn means Zango misses out

Warner Bros has axed a deal to provide content to Zango, a controversial advertising software maker.

Warner Bros made the deal with Zango earlier this year despite ongoing criticism of the company, formerly named 180solutions. But last week, Warner Bros terminated the agreement, saying Zango had declined to seek independent certification that its software meets ethical guidelines.

"While we respect Zango’s effort to change its business model, we also take our responsibility to children and parents very seriously," Warner Bros said.

Zango spokesman Steve Stratz said the company has already done quality control checks over its software and download process.

The deal went sour after a Zango advert was placed on a Warner Bros web page with other adverts including cartoon characters Scooby-Doo and The Flintstones.

Clicking on one of the cartoons would temporarily take the user to a page offering content from Zango. If the user did nothing after 10 or 15 seconds, the Zango page would disappear and the page the user wanted would load. However, if the user clicked on links in the Zango page, Zango's user agreement would come up. This is the first step to installing the Zango adware.

The conflict came from that agreement, which has a pre-checked consent box, warning users they could see adult-oriented adverts if they downloaded Zango. Users are supposed to be at least 18 years old, but the mix of cartoons and adware didn't sit well with some.

The design, done by Warner Bros, was poor, Stratz said. "In our case, we are held to a higher standard now, and that's a spot we shouldn't have been in," he said.

The Zango adware monitors a user's internet searches, delivering pop-up ads based on those searches at a later time. If a user downloaded Zango and used sex-related terms in a search, it could prompt an adult-oriented advertisement, Stratz said.

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