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Could targetted advertising fund faster broadband networks?
Thursday 05 March 2009 10:39:40 by Andrew Ferguson

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 The guide has three core commitments that those signing up have to comply with:

  1. Notice – a company collecting and using online data for behavioural advertising - such as a website publisher, ad network or technology company – must clearly inform a consumer that data is being collected and used for this purpose.
  2. Choice – a company collecting and using online data for behavioural advertising must provide a mechanism for users to decline behavioural advertising and where applicable seek a consumer’s consent (where data protection law or specific regulatory guidance applies).
  3. Education – a company collecting and using online data for behavioural advertising must provide consumers with clear and simple information about their use of data for this purpose and how users can decline.

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.


Posted by ceedee over 8 years ago
From the users' perspective, offering an 'opt-out' is essential but they'd find much less resistance if they offered 'opt-ins' instead.
And I note there's nothing to stop companies such as Phorm from collecting and making use of browsing data AFTER a user has opted-out of receiving their targeted adverts -- a potentially huge lapse in identity security.
But then, what can you expect from an advertising trade body?
Posted by scragglymonk over 8 years ago
Firefox and adblock removes the adverts I do not want to see, nice idea but suspect only works with IE
Posted by mishminx over 8 years ago
If there was that much money to be made, then someone would soon enough start offering discounted adsl. Subsidised with targeted advertising no less.
Posted by GoodLaugh over 8 years ago

Here we go again "dressing up the unacceptable!"

Relevant links to fill in the picture!
Posted by carrot63 over 8 years ago
"Could targetted advertising fund faster broadband networks?"

Sure, but so could selling crack to schoolkids, but I doubt many would find that acceptable either. Closing Ofcom down would make plenty of cash available and be generally more popular - Ed Richards salary alone should pay for a few feasibility studies.

Or here's a novel idea; how about putting prices up a bit, that way you'd only annoy people, rather than annoying them and invading their privacy as well.
Posted by Dixinormous over 8 years ago
Putting the prices up a bit won't really work people will just flock to the next pile high sell cheap deal.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 8 years ago
The translated version.....

Future so called 20Mb fibre (LOL) from BT will not only involve outside investment but then they are going to use a system similar to phorm to make an even fatter profit... Lets hope others that have started to offer high speeds survive see we can avoid them
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