BT holds off using Phorm technology for now

BT has said it has no immediate plans to deploy technology from Phorm, the controversial ISP-based behavioural targeting company.


The announcement sent Phorm’s share price down by 27.4% to 330p at 7.15am, according to Reuters.

The blow to Phorm comes as Virgin Media, which has also signed up to the platform, has said it will extend its review of Phorm’s technology, which works by delivering relevant advertising based on a user’s internet activity.

BT kicked off a trial with 10,000 BT customers in September 2008. The ISP also conducted two secret trials using Phorm’s technology in 2006 and 2007.

A BT statement said: “We continue to believe the interest-based advertising category offers major benefits for consumers and publishers alike. However, given our public commitment to developing next-generation broadband and TV services in the UK, we have decided to weigh up the balance of resources devoted to other opportunities.

“Given these resource commitments, we don’t have immediate plans to deploy Webwise today. However, the interest-based advertising market is extremely dynamic and we intend to monitor Phorm’s progress with other ISPs and with Webwise Discover before finalising our plans.”

TalkTalk has also signed up to the platform. Like Virgin Media, it has yet to start any consumer trials.

A Virgin Media statement said: “Over the last 18 months, Virgin Media has conducted a comprehensive technical and legal assessment of Phorm’s technology and consumers’ attitudes towards interest-based advertising. This review has not involved the deployment of Phorm technology across our network.

“We continue to believe interest-based advertising has potentially important benefits for consumers, internet service providers and website owners. However, given the fast-moving nature of the sector, Virgin Media intends to extend its review of potential opportunities with suppliers including Phorm prior to making any commitment to launch any of these technologies.”

A Phorm statement said: “Phorm’s activities remain ongoing and we look forward to creating the conditions necessary for UK ISPs to move to deployment. In parallel, we continue to focus considerable effort on faster-moving overseas opportunities. In so doing we have already minimised our dependency on the deployment by any single ISP or in any particular market. In addition to making excellent progress in South Korea, we are engaged in more than 15 markets worldwide, including advanced negotiations with several major ISPs.”

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