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Phorm leaps as big ISPs sign on

18 февраля 2008

Three of the UK’s largest internet service providers (ISPs) have signed up to a new service that is promising to give them them a cut of the fast-growing online advertising market for the first time.

Phorm, an Aim-listed advertising technology company, has struck agreements with BT, Carphone Warehouse’s TalkTalk broadband business and Virgin Media, which account for about 70 per cent of the UK broadband market, to use its online advertising platform.

Shares in Phorm surged 300p, or 10.3 per cent, to £32.13 on news of the agreements, giving the company a market capitalisation of almost £390m ($768m).

The new marketplace, called the Open Internet Exchange, uses anonymous information about internet users’ browsing activity to serve up more relevant adverts.

The system tracks recent sites visited by the user and any keywords they have entered to search engines to identify their interests, but replaces their identifying details with a random number that cannot be traced back.

“We cannot know who you are or where you’ve been,” said Kent Ertugrul, chief executive.

The ISPs will offer their consumers an internet security feature called Webwise, which claims to reduce the number of irrelevant advertisements and protect against malicious content or phishing attacks.

“This service will dramatically improve the effectiveness of advertising for online publishers and advertisers,” Mr Ertegrul said. “It is also a revolution in the online privacy debate.”

The group reported no revenues and a £16.3m pre-tax loss in its last interim results as it concentrated all its efforts on signing up ISPs to launch the technology.

The combination of behavioural and contextual data “benefits advertisers, publishers and consumers alike,” said Phorm, which had delayed the launch while Ernst & Young and Privacy International assessed the system’s privacy features.

It gave no details of its revenue sharing agreements with the ISPs, but analysts at Investec estimated that BT and Carphone Warehouse could see revenue benefits of £85m and £65m respectively.

The high margin nature of online advertising revenues meant this could benefit their 2010 earnings by about 1.3 per cent and 10 per cent respectively, Investec said.

Carphone would not comment on expected revenues.

Источник: Financial Times

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