Akamai Joins The Targeted Advertising Rush

Today content delivery network Akamai said it would purchase behavioral advertising startup aCerno for $95 million and launched an advertising product called Advertising Decision Solutions. Get ready for another wave of Internet privacy debates — although I bet users and politicians will find this far less frightening than having an ISP know where they surf. The Akamai product cedes the last mile back to consumers on the privacy front, but pushes behavioral ad targeting much deeper into the Internet delivery pipeline than cookies deployed on web sites.

Advertising Decision Solutions offers publishing clients predictive analysis and the ability to track anonymous users across multiple web properties to offer ads in real time. aCerno offers an analysis tool that takes data from retailers and then uses that data to predict shoppers demographic profile based on what they are browsing and buying. Akamai already helps ensure the delivery of web pages of many large publishing clients, and it had offered the ability to customize content based on an end-user’s geographic location. This product adds more customized advertising to that customized content option.

The move comes as Akamai’s core business of charging customers to deliver their web sites faster, is facing falling prices and increased competition. Akamai addresses privacy concerns by stressing that both aCerno and Akamai anonymize user data and require publishing clients to offer users an opt-out in their privacy policies, said Mike Afergan, Akamai’s CTO and senior VP of Advertising Decision Solutions. Is this the happy medium between targeted advertising and online privacy?

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