Platform-A Differentiates From Phorm, Flirts With Bebo, Going To Japan

Platform-A, AOL’s recently unified collection of advertising businesses, has distanced itself from behavioural targeting rival Phorm, although the two were amongst signatories to a new code on the practice last week. While as-yet-unlaunched, ISP-based Phorm can target ads based on all users’ browsing habits, Platform-A’s Tacoda behavioural targeting unit relies on tracking through a network of partner sites. Platform-A’s London-based international head Brendan Condon told paidContent:UK in a briefing with journalists Tuesday morning: “They’re different. We don’t need the ISPs – we have thousands of publishers participating in the network.”

AOL (NYSE: TWX) UK corporate communications head Mark Rigby added: “Tacoda was launched as a response to a need. Phorm is a different setup and addresses different needs in the marketplace.” Asked if Tacoda doesn’t do the same job as Phorm, he said: “They do, but the way in which they’re addressed in an open way is different. Tacoda has been based on a platform that’s been open and transparent – the issue is getting data that you want to do nothing other than sell relevant ads.” Platform-A claims a reach of 32 million users in the UK. With the Phorm controversy seeming to have drawn suspicion on the whole of the behavioural targeting segment, both AOL and Phorm signed up to the Internet Advertising Bureau’s new code on the practice last week.

Bebo relationship?: Meanwhile, despite Bebo/AOL People Networks’ stated ambitions toward “engagement marketing“, its relationship with Platform-A, in to which AOL has put so much energy, has been at best unclear. Condon told paidContent:UK the divisions now share a UK office so: “We work with them almost daily. They’re right there talking to each other across the desk.” It’s still not clear that the two have an extensive relationship, but Condon said Platform-A now frequently refers advertising clients to Bebo when a campaign calls for a social media marketing campaign. Rigby said the contract under which rival Yahoo sells Bebo’s display ads runs to the end of 2009/10 and would be up for grabs to Platform-A.

Internationalisation: Platform-A came in to being in April in the US, unifying Tacoda, Quigo, AdTech, Third Screen Media, Lightning Cast, and It rolled out in Germany, the UK, France and Nordic regions in the autumn, is planned to form in Spain next month and is going to Japan in the second half of the year.