Is Zone Labs using scare tactics to market anti-spyware

To me it honestly seems as if management and the marketing people didn't fully learn from customer feedback the last time Zone Labs used this marketing method. Once again we have the company using a pop up within the ZoneAlarm firewall to alert customers to a new product or service. The last time this was tried there was a very large customer uproar. This time it is even worse do to the fact that many feel the alert is misleading.



I can honestly see where some users might find this alarming and think ZoneAlarm is stating they are infected. It's also probably not the best idea to use what most people consider an update alert as a marketing tool. As I mentioned above. Zone Labs has been made fully aware that this method of marketing wasn't something customers were willing to accept. The company had previously tried a similar marketing campaign. I'll have to go consult my ZoneAlarm bookmarks to find those previous threads.

This is yet another prime example of companies not listening to their customer base. It also a shining example of a company thinking short term instead of long term. An unhappy customer won't stay a customer for long.

Over the past two years the reputation of Zone Labs has suffered greatly online. It's incidents like this that continue to erode customer confidence in their product line. This isn't just your average disgruntled customer spouting off in online forums anymore. Maybe the bottom line hasn't taken a big enough hit for the company to care.

But the sooner companies learn that word of mouth can and will make or break you nowadays the better. Businesses from large to small don't put enough value in this concept. Every customer has friends and family. Each one these customers shares that experience with those people. Whether you realize it or not. Your livelihood is affected by those comments. With online forums and communities this affect is even greater. You now have places where large numbers of people can communicate in real time. You have sites like the one your on now that make comments in that same time frame – real time. You may not feel as if this matters. But your companies public image and profit or loss is being determined by this word of mouth.

Personally I don't feel this marketing method is worth the hassle it brings. Maybe it is profitable enough to make the negative aspects the cost of doing business. To me this doesn't seem like a logical way of doing things. Customers may in fact forgive one mistake. But if you continually repeat that mistake and don't learn from it. Those customers will no longer be customers.

As I'd said in a post within a news story. I honestly don't feel this is some extremely underhanded marketing practice. It may be right on the line of that. No matter how you may feel in that regard. I fully understand how this could create customer confusion and have them feeling they were mislead. Which in the end leads to increased support email, negative forum post from frustrated users and a tarnished corporate image. To me this seems as if the increased cost associated with this. Would be negative enough to make this marketing method not worth it.

loose wire ZoneAlarm's Sneaky Spyware Scare

Zone Labs Stoops to Scare Tactics – Pushes new spyware software via firewall

My comments from that article are below.

I may wrong in this regard. But I think if you have a look at my posting this thread »Re: ZA popup offering free spyware scan?

You'll see this is nothing new. Unless Zone Labs is now pushing a free trial of the new software from within the firewall software.

If everyone will think back. You'll remember Zone Labs did something similar previously that got everyone in a uproar.

Now from a post within the previously mentioned thread.

»Re: ZA popup offering free spyware scan?

It does look as if Zone Labs is offering this in a special bundle to free users.

So the pop up very well may be a marketing tool. This would then go back to my comment in the original thread this was brought up in ( why that isn't linked in the article above I'm not sure ). That Zone Labs obviously hasn't learned from past user feedback.

Now what I will ask is this?

What in the above article and included screen capture is in any way a scare tactic? This isn't screaming that the user is infected. It isn't using any of the underhand techniques that some companies have used in the past. This is an offer for a product that works. Which is more than we can say in regards to many of the anti-spyware products being marketed on the net.

While I understand the user uproar. Especially after Zone Labs had been told by users this wasn't something they liked in the past. It is far from a scare tactic to force the software on to users machines.

Lets be honest no matter how they decided to word the pop up. Users would still be here complaining and unhappy. The same thing happened in the past when Zone Labs tried to implement this.

Now after reading the above linked blog article. I see this is in fact very similar to what Zone Labs has offered in the past. The “alert” does in fact start an Active X scan if your using IE according to the blogger. So this is exactly how things used to be on their website when they were plugging the anti-spyware solution of another vendor. I would assume they are now offering up their product instead of the previous companies product.

I have not seen this alert. Most likely because I'm a suite user. That product already includes anti-spyware. And I also have auto updating turned off within the software.

Forums » Security » ZA popup offering free spyware scan

Re ZA Free (6.0.677.000) – Nag Screen – Windows and ZoneAlarm™ Messages and Alerts – Zone Labs User Forum

Keep in mind that this link could go dead at anytime in the future. When Zone Labs does forum maintenance they kill all older threads. I've personally discussed archiving these with them in person and within email. My efforts have been to no avail. Even though the general public fully supports this. Pointless to have a help forum if older helpful threads aren't archived for future access.

Does ZoneAlarm spy on you – Iggy Uncensored

Techdirt Firewalls Might Be More Useful If They Weren't So Damn Cryptic

ZoneLabs ZoneAlarm IMSecure Help

Useability 101 Dan Gillmor shouldn't have to play Russian Roulette  Between the Lines

I'd agree that ease of use is clearly missing in many software products and online services. Although we do need to keep in mind Zone Labs and some others have taken steps to try and make this less of an issue. The ZoneAlarm firewall can be made to work almost silently depending on how you have things setup.

Forums » Security » ZoneAlarm 5 calling home problem solved

Forums » Security Product Vendors » Why Zone Labs software contacts Zone Labs

Privacy in the new ZoneAlarm 5.5 – Iggy Uncensored

Forums » Security » The ZoneAlarm-BBR research thread

Zone Labs Don't Worry – Recent issues hopefully not a trend

Malicious code could trick ZoneAlarm firewall – Iggy Uncensored

The last time this issue came up. Was when Zone Labs was promoting their pay firewall product with the free ZoneAlarm version in the manner they have done with the anti-spyware. I'm still hunting for the older threads in relation to that. I may not have bookmarked them with a tag that would properly alert me to the content.

When this issue came up the last time around. Free users / customers where in fact up in arms and where very negative about how the company had decided to try and market the paid version within the free product. Many felt the method used was a bit shady and confusing.

Forums » Security » ZA & Check for Update Zonelabs Reply

Forums » Security » ZONELABS response..manual update v3.7

Forums » Security » Re Is ZA Spyware

Zone Alarm Headaches – Faithful customers put to the test

After an exhausting search I can't find the article and thread I'm looking for. Hopefully I'll run into it later. It'll get added here if I do. The above links should give you some background on previous issues. It will also give you the reader a good idea of others thoughts present and past.

While this may seem like a bashing article or overly critical. In this case I feel it is deserved. Companies need to be held accountable when they don't wish to learn from previous mistakes. I'm not advocating not using this software. Then again maybe if they start to loose enough market share they will wake up and start listening to feedback again. Zone Labs isn't the only company suffering from this syndrome. Best Buy, Harrah's and GoDaddy come to mind right off the top of my head. So I guess Zone Labs would say they are in good company. I'd disagree in this case.

I think I may have found some old information in regards to the previous situation that got users in an uproar about this.

“I wanted to let you know that we're trying something new with our “Check for Update” feature. We're going to let ZoneAlarm users know that ZoneAlarm Pro 3.5 available. This isn't an earth-shattering piece of news, but this is the
first time we've let the ZA users know about ZAP via Check for Update.

I just wanted to let you into the loop. Let me know if you have any questions!”


“As I mentioned last week, it looks like we're going to go ahead and do another Check For Update test this Saturday and Sunday. We're going to let ZoneAlarm users know that there is a new version of ZoneAlarm Pro available.

In response to feedback from the last test, we've changed the alert message that users will receive.”

Corey Bridges is leaving ZoneLabs – Iggy Uncensored

Users basically felt this was Zone Labs adding advertising to the free product. And we all know how users feel about advertising online. Everyone expects the bills to get paid by everything being free. I do agree that if an approach is frowned upon by a good majority of your customer base. Whether those be free version or paid customers. It's a good idea to consider not using that method of marketing. Although it seems what I feel are good business practices and what others see as good practices differ greatly.

Updated information in regards to this can be found below.

Re ZA Free (6.0.677.000) – Nag Screen – Windows and ZoneAlarm™ Messages and Alerts – Zone Labs User Forum

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.