Online behavioral advertising regulatory platform startup Better Advertising (BA), co-founded by former About.com CEO Scott Meyer, has acquired Ghostery, a browser plug-in that detects any web bugs, ad nets and other tracking devices on various websites. Ghostery founder David Cancel, previously founder of Compete and Lookery, will be an advisor to BA going ahead, but is now focused on his own new startup Performable, funded recently by Charles River Ventures.
The New York City-based BA, which is in early stages of rolling out its platform, has a substantial amount of funding from PE firm Warburg Pincus, though the exact amount hasn’t been disclosed. Meyer had been working as EIR at Warburg for the last year, and incubated this idea and company out of his stint there.
Ghostery, meanwhile, once installed as a Firefox extension, allows users learn more about the companies who are tracking them — such as Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Comscore (NSDQ: SCOR), Quantcast and many others — and to block any such trackers, with an intent to protect their privacy. These tracking devices collect user data for multiple purposes, including resale to other ad networks. More than 2 million users have downloaded Ghostery onto their browsers, the company says, with 11K new downloads each week. Out of these, a portion form part of a panel that track and monitor these bugs/networks. The plug-in will continue as a stand-alone service as well.
BA’s own platform, build in response to regulatory and consumer pressure on behavioral advertising industry practices, intends to help the companies self-regulate their own behavior, so to speak, and Ghostery’s technology and panel will help in identifying the good and bad players in the industry. Meyer emphasized to us that Ghostery’s data will not be sold, but will only be used for platform’s own internal purposes.
For a better sense of ad industry’s self-regulatory efforts and principles, developed by industry bodies like American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB), read this PDF document.