Digital dimes in St. Louis
From Jason Kint at Digital Content Next, here's all
the third-party web tracking that comes with browsing
the St. Louis Post-Dispatch web site.
Read the whole
thing. (via Darren
Herman, on Twitter)
So, not much of a surprise, people don't trust
web ads, because creepy tracking. Kint writes,
This problem is only getting worse and the consumer tools that counter it are getting less effective and more and more damaging to those who respect the consumer’s right to understand when and why their activities are being tracked. Transparency and providing the consumer with adequate control over their online privacy are vital—not harmful—to businesses that are built on a solid foundation of trust.
But he's only got part of the solution.
is unworkable. How can regular people read every
into, when nobody at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
seems to be able to read the privacy policies for
the trackers the paper uses on its own site? Here's
what the Post-Dispatch site has to say about their third-party
These companies may employ cookies and clear GIFs to measure advertising effectiveness. Any information that these third parties collect via cookies and clear GIFs is generally not personally identifiable.... We encourage you to read these businesses' privacy policies if you should have any concerns about how they will care for your personal information.
In other words, "third party tracking? That's
a thing on the Internet now. We have no idea what's
going on with it, so you're on your own." No wonder,
as Kint points out,
Online advertising is trusted
less than any other form of advertising.
The result of all this tracking isn't just wigged-out
users and ever-increasing ad blocker installs.
The real problem for newspaper sites is data
All those trackers that Kint points out are
busily digesting the paper's audience like flies
on potato salad, breaking the readership down into
database records, and feeding the "print
dollars to digital dimes" problem by breaking
When it comes to data leakage, publishers
aren't bringing a knife to a gun fight, they're
bringing a white paper about a knife to a gun
fight. Terry Heaton, in “Local” is Losing to
In 2015, [non-local] independent companies will
account for nearly three-fourths of all digital
advertising, elbowing out local-media competitors who
have tried for two decades to use their existing sales
forces to also sell digital advertising. Why is
it that when a St. Louis business wants to advertise
to a St. Louis newspaper reader, three-quarters of
the money goes to intermediaries in New York and Palo
The problem, though, isn't so much that the adtech
firms are taking 3/4 of the advertising pie, it's
that they're making the pie smaller than it could be,
by building the least trustworthy form of advertising
since email spam.
So how do we keep the local papers, the people
who are doing the hard nation-protecting work
of Journalism, going? Kint says the "consumer
tools" are getting worse, and if you're just
looking at the best-known ad blocker, I'd have to
The "acceptable ads" racket doesn't
address the tracking problems that
Meanwhile, it's not practical to browse the web with
no protection at all, because who's going to read all
those "transparent" explanations of exactly how some
company you've never heard of sells some information
you didn't know you were revealing?
Fortunately, though, we have
publisher-friendly alternatives to ad
blocking such as Tracking Protection on
extension, and Microsoft's Tracking Protection
Instead of focusing on the two
bad alternatives: unaccountable
or misdirected ad blocking, why not focus on the
tracking protection that works?
Don't worry, interesting stuff remains to be done.
To start with, hey, where are all the ads on
because I want to get protected from creepy tracking
doesn't mean I'm against advertising in general.
I like to look at the ads in local papers when I'm
going there, because it gives me a sense of business
in the town. (The New York Times is showing me Saks
Fifth Avenue ads, and I have tracking protection on.)
St. Louis, please, make your newspaper site work with
tracking protection, and show me some ads.
Syndicated 2015-03-03 03:39:32 from Don Marti