Adware is a portmanteau word from engl. advertisement (German: " advertisement ", " advertising") and software. It means Software which allows the user in addition to the actual functional advertising displays or install additional software which displays advertising. Adware is usually free and fully functional. Often it is also embedded in freeware or assistance programs and therefore difficult to detect. Through marketing of advertising space, the development costs are covered or even makes a profit. Often there is also an option for a fee, an ad-free full version.

Even malware that is used for advertising purposes is referred to as adware.

Brand name

There is a software suite of the company frevel & fey, which has been selling in the early 1990s developed their software for publishers and media companies under the brand name, and adware, even before the term adware was used for ad-supported software. Because of the little positive associations, the " adware " is the term triggers now, the company has been renamed its software in "media suite ".