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Phorm may offer discounted broadband bribe

Targeted ad system looks for ways to attract users

Controversial targeted advertising firm Phorm has revealed it is considering offering web users money off their broadband bills and charity donations in the hope they'll agree to use the service.

Phorm's system, which is known as Webwise, tracks users' online surfing habits and then delivers relevant adverts - a practice that's raised a number of concerns from privacy campaigners. However, Phorm claims its 'anonymises' the information about web users so they are impossible to identify.

Earlier this year, the company said it was investigating what kind of offers users would regard as valuable enough to sign up. It appears the research has shown that discounted broadband connections or making a donation to charity is most likely to entice web users into agreeing to use the system.

"Ofcom, the Information Commissioner's Office, the Home Office, leading privacy advocates like Simon Davies, the advertising industry and publishers have all backed our service," he said.

Phorm recently conducted a trial of its service with BT. Phorm CEO Kent Ertugrul said the company "was not in a position to comment on the specifics of the trial" and could not give an exact date for rolling out the service across BT's whole network.

Ertugrul did say it was likely to be within the 2009/2010 timeframe. BT, however, remains tight-lipped and said it is still evaluating the outcome of the trial.

"Ofcom, the Information Commissioner's Office, the Home Office, leading privacy advocates like Simon Davies, the advertising industry and publishers have all backed our service," said Ertugrul.

"We're particularly excited about where we can go with this. I think you'll see our confidence is justified."


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