Claria Corporation (formerly Gator Corporation) is a media marketing software company based in Redwood City, California. It was established in 1998 by Denis Coleman. Its name was often used interchangeably with its Gain advertising network, which it claimed serviced over 40 million users. Claria exited the adware business at the end of second quarter 2006. However, its software still remains installed on millions of PCs.
Gator was perhaps best known for the flagship Gator (also known as Gain AdServer) adware products, which display ads on the computers of web surfers. It bills itself as the "leader in online behavioral marketing". The company changed its name to Claria Corporation on October 30 2003 in an effort to "better communicate the expanding breadth of offerings that [they] provide to consumers and advertisers", according to CEO and President Jeff McFadden. Strategic rebranding such as this is often an attempt by a corporation at distancing itself from "past product errors or partnerships".
Originally released in 1999, Gator was most frequently installed together with programs being offered free of charge, such as Go!Zilla, or Kazaa. The development of these programs is partially funded by revenue from advertising displayed by Gator. As of mid-2003 Gator was installed on an estimated 35 million PCs. It has been installed through misleading or surreptitious means in the past, usually without disclosing that it will be monitoring web browsing habits and displaying ads based on profiling of the user.
Even though Gator has always been installed with an uninstall routine available via Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel on Microsoft Windows, many spyware removal tools can detect and remove it. Gator's end user license agreement attempts to disallow its manual removal by prohibiting "unauthorized means" of uninstallation.
The Gator software has in the past undercut the fundamental ad-supported nature of many Internet publishers by replacing banner ads on web sites with its own, thereby depriving the content provider of the revenue necessary to continue providing that content. In June 2002 a number of large publishers, including the New York Post, The New York Times, and Dow Jones & Company, sued Gator Software for its practice of replacing ads. Most of the lawsuits were settled out of court in February 2003.
Though its products are almost universally recognized as spyware, Gator Corporation denied it and attempted to combat such labels with litigation. In September 2003 the company threatened many websites that identified Gator as spyware with libel lawsuits.
Coda: Claria sold the gator.com domain to hostgator.com on April 21, 2008.
While using the software, a user will be shown ads from GAIN Adserver. According to Computer Associates' spyware information center, all applications in the suite are classified as both adware and spyware, as they both display ads unrelated to the product while the primary user interface is not visible. These programs all employ the user's Internet connection to report behavior information back to Claria. Although the user's explicit consent is always required to install these applications, Claria took advantage of the fact that most users choose not bothering to educate themselves about what they are installing. In most cases, during the install process, users must choose whether to install the "free" version (which serves lots of ads as described above) or to pay the $30 for a version that serves no ads. Since the announcement to shut the ad network down, Claria has stopped accepting payment for "ad free" versions.
In March 2006, Claria claimed that it would be exiting the adware business and focusing on personalized search technology.
On April 21, 2008, Claria sold the gator.com domain.