Big brands, strange places: How Subway ads ended up in CounterStrike
If you've ever seen a computer infested with spyware (not your own, of course), you know that it's not uncommon for ads from well-respected companies to start popping up on the desktop. How the money makes its way from a Fortune 500 company to a dodgy purveyor of spyware makes for fascinating reading and has been well documented in various magazine articles and on the Web. Sometimes the major companies involved don't know where their ads end up... and sometimes they just don't ask many questions. But even as the furor over spyware begins to die down (and better blocking tools become commonplace on users' PCs), the next battleground in the war between advertising dollars and ethics is already taking shape.
Advertising within video games, though generally a legitimate practice, does have its seedier side. This was illustrated this week with news that Subway ads had been popping up in the popular on-line game Counter-Strike without Valve's permission and in explicit violation of the game's EULA (end user license agreement). How did it happen? Who was involved? And who's liable? To answer those questions, let's take a peek inside this specific ad campaign. We'll take it apart and see how it works, then consider the implications for the nascent in-game advertising industry. So without further ado, let's follow the money. Following the money: how Subway ads ended up in Counter-Strike
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