Unique software puts 121 in pole position

Most ISPs were hit hard by the recent decision by Carphone Warehouse to offer free broadband. 121 Media, however, was a notable exception thanks to a unique piece of software it has developed.

Carphone Warehouse's recent decision to offer free broadband has "hit listed internet service providers (ISPs) hard", says Investors Chronicle. One notable exception is 121Media. It has developed a piece of software that sits on the server of an ISP and enables usage data to be collected and analysed "on the fly" for every one of its customers, says Citywire.co.uk.

The data then tells the system about each user's preferences (albeit anonymously) so they can be targeted with tailored advertising. This information is said to be so precise that the firm's business model will still be viable with users being sent only "two or three" advertisements per day, with the firm earning between $2 and $4 per user per month.

Hitherto, most ISPs "have tended not to serve adverts to their customers, who are already bombarded with ads on individual web pages". With broadband rates going through the floor, however, they are likely to have to rework their business plans to include some form of advertising revenue.

121Media's technology is unique. It is currently loss-making, but if it can capture, say, half of the 70 million users it's targeting and make $3 per user per month then that will translate into annualised revenues of $1,260m. If it can earn a 2% margin on that revenue, that translates into earnings before interest and tax of $25.2m (£14m), which should easily be able to justify its current market value of around £32m.

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