Behavioral Ads on Meth: More Info on U.S. ISP Practices

The Washington Post has some new information on the scope of ISP behavior tracking in the U.S. According to its story this morning, ad vendor Front Porch claims it’s already observing and targeting ads to 100,000 U.S. broadband subscribers through secretive partnerships with its ISP partners. NebuAd meanwhile said it has deals that cover 10 percent of U.S. customers.

The relatively new method for behavioral targeting works by sniffing data packets on virtually all of a consumer’s online activities (and anonymizing those packets, the companies involved will be quick to tell you). Ads are then served to consumers through cut-rate remnant network inventory. ISPs and their vendors only buy impressions where the IP address of the user matches up to its subscriber database.

Two ISPs, Wide Open West and Embarq, have modified their terms of service to permit the activity, and WOW named NebuAd as a partner, according to the WaPo story.

Reaction of the U.S. public and press to such activities has been muted in the U.S. The U.K. is a different story. There newspapers and public interest groups have loudly protested the development. A dedicated protest site was created at badphorm.co.uk, and a Web page has been set up to petition the Prime Minister to scrutinize the practices.

Our earlier coverage:
ISPs Collect User Data for Behavioral Ad Targeting
Questions for Bob Dykes, NebuAd CEO

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