The controversial targeted advertising firm Phorm is to hold a second open Town Hall meeting, a year after it first met with the public to discuss plans to roll the technology out to Internet Service Providers.
Phorm works by doing deals with ISPs which allow it to scan and categorise certain web pages a user visits and then to allocate targeted adverts to users when they visit websites that have signed up to the technology and which align with those categories.
So far BT has committed to rolling out the technology, known as Webwise to consumers.
Phorm is controversial because some feel that monitoring users’ web surfing habits is an invasion of privacy, while others feel that the way Phorm works breaks the law.
The company itself believes that targeted advertising can benefit the web industry as a whole and wrestle some power back from ad firms like Google and put it into the hands of smaller enterprises. For ISPS, Phorm believes it represents a potentially powerful new revenue stream.
The firm says the new meeting “follows on from last year where we engaged with the concerned, the curious and the enthusiasts”.
I was at that meeting and while there were plenty of the first and some of the second, I certainly don’t recall any of the third group.
The second meeting will take place at the London School of Economics on 7 April at 6.30pm.
So what has happened to Phorm over the last 12 months?
After controversy erupted over BT’s trialling of the technology without informing customers, quite a lot has happened: