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NebuAd jettisons PR firm, employees

Can the American Phorm survive?

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Exclusive Now that Congress has put the freeze on its stateside ISP partnerships, NebuAd is slimming down.

The Phorm-like behavioral ad targeter has jettisoned its PR agency, and sources tell us the company recently laid off a significant portion of its workforce.

Sources also say the company is considering the adoption of an advertising model that does not require the tracking of web surfers from inside ISPs.

A spokeswoman for the company has confirmed the layoffs, though she would not provide numbers. "We have made temporary adjustments in the headcount," she told The Reg. But the company says it intends to move forward with its deep packet inspection technology, which monitors both the search and browsing activity of ISP users.

"Today, NebuAd employs about 60 employees, including many leading behavioral scientists and other advanced technology engineers. We have built a sophisticated behavioral targeting system and unique appliance technology, which provide value to the entire online advertising ecosystem. We intend to continue to develop and market our solutions."

NebuAd maintains at least two offices: One in Silicon Valley, and another in London, and its web site still advertises a sales position in New York, where The Horn Group formerly handled its PR. The Horn Group's Anthony Loredo, who spearheaded on the NebuAd account, told The Reg the two companies have parted ways.

Loredo was unaware of the layoffs, but rumors of cutbacks have been circulating since Congressman Ed Markey grilled NebuAd CEO Bob Dykes during a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. Dated July 19, this blog post from one of NebuAd's ad partners mentions the downsizing.

Meanwhile, resumes from former NebuAd employees have turned up at the online job board Monster.com.

Ed Markey, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, and other high-ranking Congressman have questioned whether NebuAd's system runs afoul of the US Communications Act of 1934, the Cable Act of 1984, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and other wiretapping-related US statutes. The system does not require an opt-in.

While they investigate, Markey and crew have asked all American ISPs to at least delay their use of systems from NebuAd and similar ad targeters. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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