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UK OFT Opens Study Into Behavioural Advertising - Impacts Phorm

Posted: 22nd Aug, 2009 By: MarkJ
The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has opened a market study into advertising and pricing, which will also cover behavioural advertising. The news caused shares in Phorm to dive and at one point hit just 100p, recovering back to 126p now. Phorm is the controversial system that raised privacy concerns because of how it works with UK broadband ISPs to monitor what websites you visit for use in targeted advertising campaigns.

The study will look at the application of consumer law to advertising and pricing, with a particular focus on the Internet. It will evaluate which online and offline methods have potential to be most detrimental to consumers, and may also look at the use of personal information in advertising and pricing - in particular, where information from a consumer's online activity is used to target the Internet advertising he or she receives.

Heather Clayton, Senior Director of the OFT's Consumer Market Group, said:

"The way that businesses advertise and price goods and services constantly evolves, and we need to keep up to date on how consumers view these adverts, and the types of advertising and prices which may mislead. Before starting our study, we want to understand from consumer groups, businesses and other organisations which areas they think we should focus on."

The market study is expected to commence in the autumn, and the OFT will be contacting some key parties directly. Other interested parties can submit their written views to advertisingandpricing@oft.gsi.gov.uk by 18th September 2009.
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