ADOTAS – Has online data collection and tracking gotten out of control? Brandt Dainow argued so much in an excellent column last week, and some new research from Krux Digital nearly rips my jaw off: studying data collection across top the 50 ad-supported websites in the U.S., Krux recorded an average of 10 and as many as 40 cookie manipulations on every single page view.
But Krux’s concern is about data thieves ripping off publishers, and the findings are pretty damning on that account too: 31% of all data collection was enabled by third parties often without publisher knowledge or consent. Krux suggests this “data leakage” costs these premium publishers $850 million annually.
An eye-opening 167 companies were collecting data across these 50 popular sites — and Krux claims many were not working in the publishers’ interests or with their permission. The top collectors according to Krux’s research included Doubleclick, comScore Beacon, QuantCast, Facebook and Atlas though it wasn’t clear who was actually shoplifting data.
More than half of companies collecting data on a site brought in some friends to also collect data and 27% of the collecting was by publishers’ potential competitors in media or data sales.
“Market middlemen represent the most immediate threat when publishers’ data is used to create directly competitive audience-based offerings for advertisers,” said Krux CEO and cofounder Tom Chavez.
Is he right — are data swindlers running rampant? If so, what’s a premium publisher to do?
UPDATE: Well, IndustryPace thinks Krux’s stats are bunk — great commentary here.