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BT’s Phorm Trial Concluded, ‘Will Move Toward Deployment’

BT (NYSE: BT) has concluded its delayed trial of the controversial behavioural ad targeter Phorm and hopes to roll out the service to its ISP customers. Phorm told the market this morning: “The trial achieved its primary objective of testing all the elements necessary for a larger deployment, including the serving of small volumes of targeted advertising. There will now be a period of joint analysis of the results. Following the successful completion of analysis, both of the trial results and of any changes required for expansion, BT has informed the company that it expects to move towards deployment.”

BT still hasn’t made any public announcement as such; its site for BT Webwise, the name under which the technology has been tested, still says: “After assessing the findings, we will make further announcements on this website concerning the launch of the service for BT Total Broadband customers.”

Unlike standard behavioural ad targeters, Phorm learns how to profile users by monitoring and categorising a user’s every website visit in a client-side cookie, which is then interrogated by partner publishers to serve up relevant ads. The UK government ruled Phorm legal under strict rules in September, though some privacy advocates are still nervous, in part because products from the company’s previous incarnation 121media were classed as spyware. The company has been sinking huge amounts in to capital expenditure, needed to raise £32.8 million through a big equity sell-off recently and will now be very keen to get the ISPs to sign on the dotted line finally.

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