One of the oldest search tools on the web has recently introduced a sleazy marketing campaign targeting other search engine’s clients. Lycos, owned by Madrid based TerraLycos, is using GATOR advertising to display advertisments for their free email system when users (who’ve either downloaded or been infected with GATOR software) go to competitor’s sites.

Gator software is often installed by piggybacking other software such as file-trading clients. Often users don’t even know it has been installed though when the signed the end-user-license for the software Gator has pibbybacked on, they agreed to the installation. When a web user goes to a site competing with a Gator client, a pop-up appears offering the competing service, often over the original site’s content and media.

The use of Gator by Lycos is very disappointing and in the words of MSN UK Hotmail manager Will Collins, the campaign smacks of “desperation”. “It sounds like it’s trying to spam users. It’s not something we’d do to promote Hotmail. It sounds too intrusive, an abuse of users.” (New Media Age interview, 25 September 2003)

Say it ain’t so Lycos…