Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cut through the cookie madness to stop data leakage.

The pattern implicit in ushering used in a controlled fashion could be key. Either way perhaps some type of tag aggregation and tightly controlled data sharing seems prudent.

Amplify’d from

If publishers don't start making the most of the data they collect on user behavior, then someone else already piggy-backing on their site will. As cookies start flying every which way to feed this complex ad-targeting infrastructure online, the big topic for content providers is "data leakage." Who is collecting data on a publisher's users via third-party cookies and without the publisher's knowledge or consent? We have already seen this year some yield optimizers try to service this worry among their publisher partners. A new category of tag/cookie containers has cropped up, promising to give publishers greater control over the tracking pixels and cookies that get planted on their site.

How bad is the problem? While admittedly an interested party, one solution provider in the category, Krux Digital, claims in a new study that an analysis of the top 50 publishers online shows they may be losing between $850 million to $1.2 billion to third parties. The ad network ecosystem is monetizing data that the publishers should be using more effectively rather than sharing indiscriminately. "Publishers are being technologically outmatched on the buy side when it comes to targeting and leveraging their unique assets to their fullest purpose," says Ben Crain, vice president of marketing and corporate development, Krux. Crain says Krux has the data to prove it. In late summer the company started analyzing a sample of URLs across the top 50 sites to see what data collection was being done, whether it was on the page itself, in an iframe, or from an ad call. Krux found 167 different entities participating in data collection on these sites.

Almost a third (31%) of data collection on a page was being done by a third party, and in many cases by yet another party whose tracking tag or cookie was being "ushered" in by the most apparent third party. In fact, over half (55%) of the third parties also brought at least one other data collector with them. The sheer volume of the entities involved across so muchinventory has to cause some concern among publishers about who is sharing with whom. How much knowledge does a content owner have of the embedded partners in a cookie?


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