Snopes.com, a site that exposes urban legends, had until Monday been funding its operation in part with revenues from a pop-up ad that posed the question "Do you want to block Junk emails" That pop-up, said Alex Eckelberry, CEO of Sunbelt Software, in turn shilled ad-serving software from Zango Inc., a well-known adware distributor that settled with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in late 2006 over charges it used unfair and deceptive practices to download software to users' PCs.
Eckelberry said he had seen the pop-up on Snopes for more than a year, and had first complained to the site -- which is run by Barbara and David Mikkelson -- six months ago. He did not receive a response at the time, Eckelberry said in a post to his company blog Monday.
"Snopes is getting paid well for these pop-ups (either pay-per-click or by page views)," he charged Monday. "Advertisers like Zango don't pay to run ads that don't get a good response. And likewise, a site like Snopes won't waste valuable ad inventory on poorly-paying ads. And I firmly believe that the fact that the ads do well is because of Snopes' credibility."
Eckelberry's revelation gained traction when his blog was cited on Slashdot, the online tech news aggregation site.
Commenters reading his blog generally gave Snopes poor marks for how it was earning revenue. "I like Snopes, but I've largely given up visiting their site because of all the pop-up ads," said someone identified only as Steve. "The particular ad choices they've made have driven at least me away."