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Norton Blocks Affiliate Links,
Banners & Webmaster Revenue

UPDATE: We all have a voice and can make it heard to affect change, even with a big company like Symantec. I just got a message that the 2005 version has been changed. "My NIS 2005 shipped to me with default ad blocking OFF. When I went into the control panel to switch ad blocking on, it gave me a big warning that web pages may not display as intended and are you sure you want to enable ad blocking."  Thanks for listening Symantec. That's what we wanted to see.  Leaving this page up for information purposes since many users still have the old software.

Older versions of Norton Internet Security and Firewall software came with default ad blocking ON!
It blocks most affiliate links and banners and even AdWords and AdSense.
See below how it can block your income and what to do about it.
CLICK HERE to see how this page looks with Norton Blocking ON.

DentalPlans banner BLOCKED due to all CJ links blocked (This banner is invisible with Norton On)

Quality Affordable Dental Coverage

Zzounds Banner BLOCKED due to standard banner size width="468" height="60" (invisible)

 

IMPORTANT - To get the full impact of how this affects affiliate and merchant revenue, click the link below.  This is a page from one of my Irvs Luggage Warehouse affiliates. Norton not only strips out the banners and text links, it even strips the SOURCE code right out totally altering  the page.  Can this be legal?  View Irvs Affiliate page with Norton Blocking here

AdSense Ads BLOCKED - Links are stripped and click-through does not work!

 

AdSense Ads UNBLOCKED


Another Dramatic example

See PhillyBurbs.com a popular online newspaper after Norton Blocking. All top ads and boxes are cut out & right navigation links totally removed. See how badly Norton defaces this site & makes navigation almost impossible!  Click for screenshots

Again, Norton is not just blocking pops, it is blocking banners, text links, some navigation, even occasional site logos. Also it is not just blocking - it actually strips the source code right out of the page. In most cases even if a webmaster tries to help a customer view the page by turning off ad blocking and refreshing the page - it still will not load properly.

For any naysayers that think if people are blocking ads, they probably are not buyers anyway or for those of you that think this problem is not that wide spread or that Norton's market share is not that far reaching - think again!

March 1, '04 Symantec press release:
Symantec Security Software Ships on Nine of the Top 10 Notebook Computers Worldwide... and sales of notebooks have now surpassed those of desktops…”  
www.symantec.com/press/2004

Despite the fact that these products are sold and marketed as "security products" and in spite of the fact that ad blocking is not even mentioned on their main product page as a feature - adblocking is ON by default!  It is an added feature not a main feature!  Users should have the option to turn it on, it should not be the default. Norton sells this product based on fears about hackers, privacy and every other Internet threat there is. Text links are not threats, they don't eat bandwidth and should not be stripped out by a product labeled as a security product.

People buy products like this out of paranoia and many times leave everything turned on that is default and assume that the more protection the better. How many average Joe and Jill surfers that are non-technical even read the directions or learn what the program does? With a well known name like Norton, I bet most just install this software, trust they are protected and have no idea how much information and content Norton is blocking.

My STRONG guess is many unsavvy surfers do not even realize ad blocking is on and think the blank spots on some sites are just mistakes.  This is evidenced by the fact that more and more affiliates and etailers are getting tech support calls and emails saying "I want to buy something on your site but there is no link, how can I buy this?"  Even the Washington Post, below has had to address the issue of missing content due to Norton blocking in their support files, see below.

I am not an affiliate or a merchant, so I have not personally suffered any loss of revenue.  I am an affiliate management consultant and it’s my job to help clients (etailers) and affiliates make money online.  So I share this info in an effort to help others become aware of the issue and discover potential solutions which could help protect your online revenues.  

Again, I have nothing to gain personally by writing about this.  I simply believe affiliates and online advertisers face too many threats to their online revenue from parasites, hijackers, hackers, fraud and other unscrupulous activities as it is.  Internet marketers should not have to worry about protecting their livelihoods from a big company like Symantec that bundles overly aggressive, default ON ad blocking technology in with security products that play into surfer’s fear and are just supposed to keep the web safe.   If Symantec was blocking ads with a stand-alone product called “Ad Blocker 2004,” that worked properly and did not strip other site content and people were only buying it if they specifically wanted to block ads - I would not be writing this article.

UPDATE -
We all have a voice and can make it heard to affect change, even with a big company like Symantec. I just got a message that the 2005 version has been changed. "My NIS 2005 shipped to me with default ad blocking OFF. When I went into the control panel to switch ad blocking on, it gave me a big warning that web pages may not display as intended and are you sure you want to enable ad blocking."  Thanks for listening Symantec. That's what we wanted to see.  Leaving this page up for information purposes since many users still have the old software with ad blocking on by default and webmasters still keep wondering why their ads don't show.

Voice your objection or share your ideas or solutions on the affiliate forum at WebProWorld here.

Additional resources and potential solutions:

ARTICLES

"Affiliate Marketers: Blocking Software Is Killing Us" Small Business Computing Magazine
Article from Dec 04 thatI was recently interviewed for.  Published by Internet.com
Is Norton Blocking Your Internet Marketing Efforts? - In-depth article I wrote for About.com
Norton Antivirus 2004 Ad Blocking - Tough Call? -
SlashDot

Norton 2004 web site blocking hurts Web sales
MarketingIdeas.org
Partial List of the 200 or so phrases and domains Norton blocks
(Be sure these words are not in your ads, subdirectories or URLS.)
Washington Post "help files" Warns users about defacement of the Post's site and what to do. 
(FYI this is fairly good wording on how to address the issue with your site visitors.)

SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS (I have not tested these, just passing on potential options)

Affiliate Anti-Ad Showcase Manager - This software was designed to combat the problem.
Free Link Cloaker
(A friend called and told me how he uses this free software to cloak his links.  I asked him to put up a page explaining it.  He will also help install if you need it. The key to this software is your links will be sent to page on one of your domains instead of having CJ or other blocked domains in the URL links.  You will still need to adjust or hide standard banner sizes to prevent them from being blocked)
CensorBuster -
Free Norton Detection Script
Censorbuster.com/blocked
  Link to this page to explain & show how to turn Norton blocking off.
MarketingIdeas.org - This site points to a potential software solution

FORUMS (Research and discuss the options here)

Norton Blocking Affiliate + Webmaster Revenue - WebProWorld affiliate forum
Norton software blocking Affiliate ads WebmasterWorld
AdSense invisible to Norton Internet Security users WebmasterWorld
Norton Internet Security 2004 blocking Google Adwords! WebmasterWorld
Norton Blocking Affiliate Links + Banner Amazon Affiliate Boards
Norton Blocking Affiliate Links & AdSense Revenue JimWorld SEO Forum

More info and links coming soon...

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