Data Leakage an $850 Million Problem for Pubs


thiefADOTAS – 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.


  1. Premium publishers can better guard their user’s privacy by displaying their own campaigns or premium ads. This way not going to 3rd parties. Moreover, today they have the option of using Facebook Connect in order to get authorized access to the user’s Facebook data and use it for smart targeting.

  2. If a company has such a leaky system, who says it’s just 3rd party advertisers trying to make a buck. The financial Industry is constantly being barraged with theft by cyber criminals. Dainow was right on target when he suggested foreign intelligence services would be interested in our data. The cyber threat is real. It’s time to build data security into all software -especially software used to collect individual data.


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