From 'Parasite' to Advertiser: Times Site Runs, Then Pulls, Claria Ads

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New York Times Digital ran ads for two weeks on NYTimes.com for adware maker Claria, which it once called a "parasite" on its site. Immediately after being notified of this, NYTD yanked the ads.


NYTimes.com was carrying skyscraper ads yesterday for Claria, which makes ad-supported software that displays pop-up ads based on users' Internet browsing activity, much to the annoyance of Web publishers like NYTD.


The Claria ads were a surprise because the New York Times Co. joined the parent companies of USA Today, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal along with other major publishers two years ago to sue Claria, then called Gator, claiming trademark and copyright infringement. In its suit, the publishers characterized Gator's pop-up ad software as "a parasite on the Web that free rides on the hard work and investments" of Web publishers.


The publishers and Claria reached an undisclosed settlement in January 2003 before the case went to trial.


After inquiries by DM News about the Claria ad placement yesterday, NYTD removed them from the site. NYTD spokesman Toby Usnik blamed the ads on an "oversight," saying a NYTD staffer accepted the ads from Claria's ad agency without knowing the history between the companies.


A Claria spokesman was unavailable for comment.


Since changing its name to Claria in October, the Redwood City, CA, company has gained a measure of respectability. Despite battling several lawsuits over its controversial business model, Claria boasts 43 million users and 425 advertisers. It has a distribution deal with Yahoo's Overture Services to distribute paid listings on pop-under pages. The company filed for a $150 million initial public offering in April. Its regulatory filing showed a healthy business that generated $34.8 million in net income on $90.5 million in sales in 2003.


Claria has long noted that many of those that have brought legal action against it, including The New York Times Co., previously advertised on its service.


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