BBC: ‘The jury’s out on Phorm’; targeted ads good in principle

With Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) and Wikipedia having already told Phorm not to track web users’ activities on their sites, the pressure is mounting on the ISP-based behavioural ad targeting company. Similar action by a major UK publisher could fatally wound the outfit — so what’s the BBC’s view? So far, ambivalence. BBC Online controller Seetha Kumar writes in a blog post: “My understanding is that Phorm is not currently deployed on a UK ISP, though it has been trialled. So the jury is still out.”

Further remarks might suggest future friction: “It is not appropriate for third parties to use the data profiles of the users of BBC services for commercial gain.” [emphasis added] But, for now, Kumar is just “watching this space closely” — she’s waiting while European deep packet inspection guidelines work their way through and as the UK government prepares to respond to last months’ scathing criticism from the European Commission, which told it to change its laws after it saying it wrongly applied rules when it gave Phorm the go-ahead.

Kumar’s commercial counterparts over at BBC Worldwide already use non-ISP-based behavioural targeting from Audience Science. She added: “A commercial company cannot provide good free content on the web without relying on advertising revenues. In which case, the better targeted the marketing — the more sales that are generated.”

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