A policy change at Google and a new search deal signed by Yahoo! show that the former has offloaded one of its least-liked advertising clients onto the latter.
In December, Yahoo signed AVG Technologies as a new search client. AVG offers antivirus software that comes bundled with a “secure search” web browsing product.
Anyone who downloads AVG’s antivirus software is encouraged to allow AVG’s search toolbar to download with it by default. When users search within the AVG toolbar, the company splits the revenues from any ads that are shown or get clicked on. Until December, AVG split all that revenue with Google.
The problem is that people seem to really dislike AVG’s search toolbar. A writer at ZDNet called it “the worst foistware I’ve ever seen,” because it’s difficult to remove once installed. The toolbar comes as a default with any AVG download, users have to positively opt out of it if they don’t want it. Even if users try to uninstall the AVG toolbar, the default option in the uninstall menu is to leave AVG installed but “hidden” in your system settings:
Users of Yahoo’s Answers service regard AVG as “malware.” One writes:
I got this AVG nightmare after installing Firefox . I wasted 4 hours of my life trying to disable it. I did a regedit, and removed it from my system, and it still hijacked my internet explorer.After countless hours, and support from the entire internet community, i was able to disable it from hijacking my browser, but could not remove it.somehow, the avg search engine remove button is disabled.I can remove anything but I can’t remove the Avg search engine WTF???
AVG tells us:
AVG works with several search providers and maintains good relationships with all of them. This includes Google. On the customer side, there is choice in the download process and we offer clear communications throughout. We also take customer feedback into account whenever possible. Overall, our search business is healthy.
PC users have long been familiar with software downloads that come loaded with default toolbars, search engines, and other unwanted stuff that changes system and browser settings. After Google received 100,000 complaints in a 90-day period about such downloads, it adopted a new policy a couple of days ago. Now, software downloads that use Google search (as AVG once did) must obey these new rules:
Be pre-approved by Google;
Offer one-click, complete uninstall;
Provide clear, full disclosure and transparency to people about what is being installed and what changes are being made to their devices;
Install itself on only one browser per download;
Be bundled with and distributed by only reputable parties who comply with our policies.