Conduit (publisher network and platform)

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The Conduit toolbar was an online platform that allowed web publishers to create custom toolbars, web apps, and mobile apps at no cost.[1][2] It was developed by Conduit Inc. but demerged to Perion Network. Conduit had approximately 260,000 registered publishers who have collectively created content downloaded by more than 250 million end users.[3][4][5] Web apps and pieces of content developed through Conduit's platform can be distributed and exchanged online via the Conduit App Marketplace.[6][7] Currently, 60 million users consume apps from the marketplace on a daily basis.[8]

Conduit's toolbars have been described in online forums and news outlets as malware[9][10] and are difficult to remove.[11][12] It has both browser hijacking and rootkit capabilities. Conduit began to shift away from this part of its business in late 2013 when it spun off its toolbar division into Perion Network through a reverse merger.[13] After the deal, Conduit shareholders still owned 81% of Perion's existing shares, though both Perion and Conduit remain independent companies.[14]

History[edit]

In 2010 Conduit then-president Adam Boyden was featured in Forbes magazine online, in which he discussed the link between successful social gaming and marketing principles.[15] In 2010 there were more than 100 million toolbars being powered by Conduit that were used at least once a month, which put Conduit at #29 on Google’s list of top 1,000 sites on the Internet that year.[16] In May 2011, Conduit completed the $45 million acquisition of Israeli startup Wibiya, an engagement platform that enables publishers to integrate a variety of web applications on their site via the Wibiya Bar product.[17]

During this time Conduit moved away from the toolbar part of its business in order to focus on its mobile and browser engagement offerings. Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch wrote that by spinning off the Client Connect business, the "split divided the company in two, with one part focusing on its mobile and engagement business and run by Shilo, and the other, Client Connect, merging with Perion". Lunden said further that, "Less than a month after browser-toolbar and mobile startup Conduit merged its Client Connect division with Perion, the company is making another change to its business. Conduit has announced that it will be discontinuing Wibiya, the social browser toolbar service that it acquired in 2011 for $45 million, as it shifts further away from its toolbar business."[18] In late 2013 Conduit was valued at $1.5 billion.[19]

Technology[edit]

Browser[edit]

Until 2013, one of Conduit's main businesses revolved around downloadable toolbars. Conduit allowed publishers to create and distribute their own toolbars for web browsers.[16] Typically the toolbars were installed with another software product on which the toolbar is a piggyback program,[20][21] with users given the option to not install the toolbar. Browsers that initially supported the toolbars included Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari. Google Chrome was added as a supported browser in 2011.

Examples of toolbars have included a Zynga-designed toolbar that helps Farmville enthusiasts keep up-to-date with the status of their game, another is a toolbar from eBay that provides auction updates. The content is customized to the individual toolbar rather than generalized for all users. The toolbar can also be used for general information distribution as well, which has been used by companies to engage in marketing campaigns.[16] Other companies that have developed Conduit toolbars include Major League Baseball, Greenpeace, and Lufthansa.[22] Some of the companies and brands that have used Conduit's platform are Major League Baseball, Time Warner Cable, Fox News, Zynga,[23] Chelsea Football Club, Groupon, Travelocity, µTorrent, and The Weather Channel.[5][8][24] The toolbars have been described in online forums and news outlets as a browser hijack[20][21][25][26][27][28] and are difficult to remove.[29][30][31][32][33] It is said that most of Conduit's revenue comes from paid referrals from its search engine.[34]

Conduit toolbars are automatically downloaded alongside the download of free software, in order to help sites that provide software for free with a form of monetization. Conduit toolbars have rootkit capabilities that hook the toolbar deep into operating systems and can perform browser hijacking. Many conduit removal tools are also considered to be malware themselves. While not a virus, the program is referred to as a "potentially unwanted program" by some in the computer industry.[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wonham, Linc (February 24, 2011). "Conduit's Web App Network Goes Mobile". Website Magazine. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ Fried, Ina (February 7, 2011). "Exclusive: Web App Publisher Conduit Expands Into Mobile". All Things Digital. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Conduit Mobile Enters The Music App Creation Wars". Music Ally. November 14, 2011. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  4. ^ Nakano, Chelsi (July 16, 2010). "Conduit Network Boosts Browser-Based Apps in a Big Way". CMS Wire. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Dunaway, Gavin (May 13, 2011). "Big Names Grace Conduit's App Platform". ADOTAS. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  6. ^ Knight, Kristina (May 4, 2010). "Conduit's App Marketplace pushes past 100 million users". BizReport. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  7. ^ Hardawar, Devindra (June 4, 2010). "Conduit announces Google Chrome support for its massive app platform". VentureBeat. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Wauters, Robin (July 13, 2010). "Conduit Reports Big Numbers: 250,000 App Publishers, 170 Million Users". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  9. ^ "How do I uninstall Search Protect by Conduit from my computer?". Norton. 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-07-11. 
  10. ^ "PUP.Optional.Conduit removal instructions". Malware Removal Guides. 2013-08-07. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  11. ^ Griffith, Erin (September 14, 2012). "Conduit Turns Toolbar Riches Into Massive Dividend". PandoDaily. Retrieved 2014-07-14. 
  12. ^ ', Kapersky Labs support pages, December 19, 2013.
  13. ^ Feldman, Yaniv (July 10, 2013). "Israeli toolbar giant Conduit expected to split and acquire Perion". Geektime. 
  14. ^ Matthew Kanterman and Elliott Gotkine (September 17, 2013). "Perion With Conduit Seen Besting AOL in U.S. Searches". Bloomberg News. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Discussion of the Week: Adam Boyden". Forbes. August 27, 2010. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c Jon Fortt (June 3, 2010). "Browser toolbars are back". CNN. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  17. ^ Gannes, Liz (May 23, 2011). "Conduit Buys Wibiya for $45M". All Things Digital. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  18. ^ Ingrid Lunden (October 7, 2013). "After Buying Wibiya For $45M, Conduit Discontinues Product As It Shifts Away From Toolbars". TechCrunch. 
  19. ^ Orr Hirschauge and Inbal Orpaz (September 16, 2013). "$800 million company formed by Perion-Conduit merger". Haaretz. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b "How to Remove Conduit Search Toolbar and search.conduit.com redirect?". Anvisoft. 2013-06-07. Archived from the original on 2 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-13. 
  21. ^ a b Govind, Rajesh (19 February 2013). "How to uninstall Conduit Toolbar and change the IE10 homepage from "search.conduit.com" to the original one.". Microsoft Community. Microsoft. Retrieved 18 August 2013. 
  22. ^ Steve Strauss (June 28, 2009). "To get ahead in this e-world: Create and market content". USA Today. Retrieved March 13, 2013. 
  23. ^ Wauters, Robin (April 2, 2011). "Conduit Acquires Web Application Platform Wibiya For $45 Million: Sources". TechCrunch. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Israeli Startup Wibiya Will Be Acquired By Conduit For Whopping 45$ Million". Technology Noise. April 3, 2011. Retrieved May 16, 2011. 
  25. ^ a b Keenan, Thomas P. (August 1, 2014). Technocreep: The Surrender of Privacy and the Capitalization of Intimacy. Greystone Books. ISBN 9781771641227. 
  26. ^ Nobels, Ethan C. (2010-12-15). "So long, uTorrent". First Arkansas News. Archived from the original on 29 September 2012. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  27. ^ "Uninstalling Toolbars, 'Free Trials'". U-T San Diego. 26 October 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  28. ^ Payal Dhar (21 October 2013). "A browser hijack is no joyride". Financial Chronicle. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  29. ^ Kessler, Topher (7 January 2011). "How to remove the Conduit 'Community Toolbar' in OS X". CNET. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 11 October 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  30. ^ Pilici, Stelian (January 21, 2013). "Remove Conduit Toolbar and search.conduit.com (Uninstall Guide)". Malware tips. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  31. ^ Honorof, Marshall (February 11, 2014). "How to Remove Conduit Search Adware". Tom's Guide. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  32. ^ Tung, Liam (September 9, 2014). "Malicious 'Kyle and Stan' ad network uses Amazon, YouTube to target Windows and Mac users". ZDNet. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  33. ^ Virgillito, Dan (September 11, 2014). "Kyle and Stan Malvertising Infects Thousands of Computers". VPN Creative. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  34. ^ Orpaz, Inbal; Hirschauge, Orr (23 August 2013). "Game over in Download Valley?". Haaretz Daily Newspaper. 

External links[edit]