Virgin Media sticks with Phorm
There's more than one way to target ads
Claims that Virgin Media is seeking to dump Phorm in favour of more conventional behavioural targeting firms have been denied by both firms today.
A report in the digital marketing trade magazine New Media Age today suggested Virgin Media was seeking to distance itself from Phorm by working with Audience Science, another behavioural targeting firm.
Without prompting, Phorm issued a firm denial this morning. "There is no substance to today's New Media Age story," it said. "Over the last year there have been continuous attempts to create the illusion that Phorm's ISP partners are parting ways with the company. This is yet another example of such a story, which has no basis in fact."
However, a Virgin Media spokesman said there was some substance to the report. Talks with Audience Science are ongoing, he confirmed, but said the magazine had misread their significance.
Audience Science, like Phorm, is a behavioural targeting company, but the deals it makes with ISPs are for "market intelligence" data to improve its targeting algorithms. It does not seek realtime monitoring and profiling of web use. It raises its own privacy issues by helping websites and advertisers to pool behavioural data and track visitors, but is a very different proposition to ISP-level monitoring.
Indeed, Virgin Media's talks with Audience Science and other targeting companies are being held by its Interactive Digital Sales (IDS) unit, a marketing subsidiary completely separate to the network engineers who would be responsible for any future Phorm implementation. IDS also handles Virgin Media's advertising sales for its TV channels and mobile phone services.
So it would appear that the fact one part of Virgin Media is talking to Audience Science has no bearing on its relationship with Phorm, which it says is unchanged. News the company is in talks with Audience Science, however, potentially explains comments in November from CEO Neil Berkett. When asked about ISP advertising technologies at an investor event in New York, he said: "Our next initiative probably won't be with the Phorms of the world."
Still, despite New Media Age's apparently overblown conclusions, Virgin Media has no schedule for trials of Phorm's technology and it is understood to be a low priority.
Asked for a comment on progress, the ISP offered the same statement on Phorm it has been giving to journalists for months: "The only agreement we have in place is with Phorm. We are investigating the use of Phorm's technology under our existing agreement with the company but, due to the complexities of the proposition, we do not have any timescales on when, or if, we will progress to trial or launch."
If true, the suggestion that Virgin Media was seeking to replace Phorm would have dealt the biggest blow yet to its commercial hopes. Last week its secret trials with BT became the subject of a European Commission legal action against the UK government, while Amazon and Wikipedia - two of the UK's most visited websites - decided to opt their traffic out of interception.
New Media Age's report also said that BT is seeking digital advertising industry views on Phorm's controversial technology, which would seem natural, if somewhat belated. A spokesman for BT said it had no comment to make. ®
no they didnt
Virgin are not stupid, they wont publically denounce something, neither have any of the other big companies, amazon merely said "no thanks"
Does that mean virgin would use phorm? Well after its made news headlines, been accussed of interfering with the government, a privacy invasion, has someone in the EU wanting legal action what do you think they will do?
Even if all the stories were true or false, the bad publicity is something NO company big or small would want to be associated with, and old branson might be eccentric, but hes no fool, he didnt make billions by killing his companies, there is no way virgin will run phorm now, but they wont publically say it because
They just dont behave like that, business is business, but we customers wish the hell they would say it, why cant they just turn round and give a simple
"virgin did look into phorm, we decided it was not for our customers, and on we go doing what we kinda might do best if virgin media is an example of the best they do"
That last bit dont make sense, but neither do virgin media at the best of times.
Phorm are dying - rejoice.
Phorm are trying to fight back but apparently their stroppy-sounding site is not winning them any plaudits -
"The decision to publish this site feels to me like a sign that Phorm is dying, and this is one of its final throes." (quote from the guardian article)
This is truly a victory for people power. Let's keep it up and "smear" these bastards into a greasy stain - and any others who seek to try to use the same technology. It's not smearing; if the public does not want something then they DO NOT WANT IT - and you cannot blind them with science in an attempt to foist the tech on them.
Recent revelations through FOI regarding Phorm's collusion with the home office over the legislation for behavioural advertising show the government simply can't be trusted to know what this technology is about - we, the tech-literati people MUST keep dogging Phorm and their ilk out of existence.
@How does a web site owner opt out
Here's the site to go to ensure that your website is not scanned by the Phorm spyware-in-the-network system...