Phorm launches first foray into targeted web

Phorm announces its recommendation software Webwise Discover

Online advertising firm Phorm has formally launched its long-awaited Webwise Discover, a personalised web recommendation service.

It enables visitors to any website to automatically find content within that site based on their previous browsing from across the web and works similarly to Phorm's controversial advertising platform.

Site admins can embed Webwise Discover into their own site so you can target individual people with your site, while those signed up will also have access to a personalised page offering them specifically targeted content from across the web.

"The technology is the same platform as the targeted advertising product [previously talked about by Phorm] with complete privacy," explained Marc Burgess, Senior Vice President of Technology for Phorm. " Just as we can select an interested ad for them, we can select interesting content."

The service will be opt-in for the end user, offered by specific ISPs in partnership. But at the moment, Phorm has only launched a full trial in Korea, despite having trialled its advertising service three times with BT. 150,000 users of the Korean ISP KT will be first to have access to the service.

No UK launch is on the horizon, says Phorm, whose staff had to field repeated questions from a press pack eager for news of UK ISPs taking up the service. TechRadar attended this morning's launch at which we expected some major UK specific-announcement.

Webwise is based on a whitelist of information, and as such stays away from adult or medical information. Users can also switch it off at any time, says Phorm, who use tracking cookies in tandem with a unique user ID - however, everything is anonymised.

Kent Ertugrul, CEO of Phorm, explained the rationale behind webwise, "You have the issue of diversity," he said . "The basic issue is that people are different. You tend to get a one-size fits all internet. Thanks to brilliant technology such as Google you can retrieve [the information] you're looking for [but] sometimes we just want to discover [it for yourself]."

Phorm's advertising platform has come under repeated fire from privacy campaigners and led to the organisation launching the site in response. Phorm says it will announce other applications based on the platform in due course.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.