Congressional Scrutiny Hurting NebuAd

Sometimes if you combine consumer outrage and an election year strange things happen. That seems to be the case when it comes to NebuAd, which is using controversial technology to inject ads into webpages by tapping into people’s click streams.

The company today announced that it has laid off a “significant number” of employees, according to The Register. The story suggests that NebuAd is considering a different way to use its deep packet inspection technology for advertising, which wouldn’t rely on using an ISP’s customer data. The company originally was the target of consumer outrage after it signed deals with a few ISPs, including Embarq and Charter. Once its Charter trials attracted Congressional interest, and Charter backed off, NebuAd’s proverbial goose was put on the slow burn.

When questioned on how realistic it was to expect Congress to legislate anything regarding consumer privacy on the Web, an activist told me sometimes just shining a light on such practices works. In this case it got NebuAd CEO Bob Dykes to offer a more obvious opt-out notice, which likely isn’t good for the firm’s bottom line. I can’t imagine that consumers would continue to participate in a program where their ISP uses information about their web surfing habits to insert advertising. Of course people do pay good money for women’s fashion magazines, which are advertisements wrapped in a thin blanket of beauty and relationship advice. Maybe the lure of “relevant ads” delivered via NebuAd would keep people from opting out. Nah.

image courtesy of Lucky