Targetted advertising is nothing new, but generally it has been done based on the content of the webpage you are currently visiting. New systems are aiming to try and understand the pattern of sites people visit and thus offer what will hopefully be the most relevant adverts to increase the click through rate.
Of course Phorm is the name that springs to peoples minds, but you have firms like Google, Microsoft, AOL and Yahoo all in the mix and at a time when advertising is being squeezed they will be looking for ways to try and improve the income it generates. To this end the Internet Advertising Bureau has launched a behavioural advertising good practice guide and a more consumer friendly guide at www.youronlinechoices.co.uk. The guide has three core commitments that those signing up have to comply with:
The chief executive of Ofcom, Ed Richards has addressed the annual conference of ISBA, the advertisers association. The Financial Times covers this address and includes a number of quotes.
"In our view the underlying idea that ISPs can enable delivery of behavioural targeted advertising has much potential, if done sensibly and done correctly, transparently to the user and with the consent of the user."Ed Richards, (Chief Executive) Ofcom
The article goes on to mention that Mr Richards feels that the new forms of advertising could pay for digital content creation, and fund the cost of high speed broadband networks. If the Internet did not already have advertising on it that was already being used to fund the production of content and pay staff wages, etc. then this might be possible. The value of Phorm to BT Retail has been suggested at around £80 million a year, which compared to the £1.5 billion the BT Group is set to spend on pushing fibre closer to the home is a very small amount.
The news that ITV is to divest itself of Friends Reunited and Scoot which should have been ideal sources of advert income suggests that advertising may not be the cash crop that some suggest it is.