How to Do PPV Research Conveniently

Posted by Methylated on December 30, 2009

PPV (AKA CPV), though certainly not new, has been gaining attention in the AM scene lately. For doing market research, you can install ad supported software such as VombaToolbar on your computer to see exactly what ads the user is seeing. There are a few issues associated with this approach. Mac and Linux marketers may not be able to install these apps on their OS. But even if I was on Windows, and even though adware isn’t exactly spyware, I don’t want any of it on my machine. I used to write spyware and adware, and while I feel confident in understanding how these apps work internally and in how secure they are, I just don’t want anything extra running in the background. There are a few solutions for this.

I can dual boot, meaning install another OS on my machine, and reboot to go into it, do some testing, and then reboot again to go back into my primary OS. I never reboot (literally) unless I absolutely have to, because I hate closing my gazillion Firefox tabs (which I’ll probably never get to anyway, but that’s besides the point!) – so this isn’t ideal in my case.

Another solution would be to have a dedicated machine specifically for testing. This is OK, especially considering you can buy a Dell desktop for a few hundred bucks, conveniently preloaded with spyadware. I have enough machines running already, and don’t like the idea of having another box taking up space.

What to do? Virtualization. You can run another OS sandboxed inside your primary OS. This means I can work as usual in Mac or Linux (or Windows), and when doing research, run a program which will load a new instance of Windows inside a window, which I can install adware in, do my research, etc and then close (simulates a shutdown). Besides the convenience of not having to reboot or run another machine, I can load multiple OSes simultaneously – XP, Vista, 7, etc.

This is done using software like VirtualBox, or VMware. After installing these, you will of course need a Windows CD/DVD (or you can mount an iso) to install the OS. There are others,

VirtualBox
VMWare
VMware Fusion (Mac)
Parallels (Mac)