Consumer Reports launched a campaign to “stop unwanted online tracking once and for all,” despite the fact its own website tracks visitors using tools from multiple online tracking firms.
“Companies can look over your shoulder as you work your way down your holiday gift list,” reads an email blast sent to subscribers by the Consumer Reports president, Jim Guest. It prompts people to sign a petition calling for stronger “do not track” compliance amongst online trackers.
The email neglected to mention, however, that ConsumerReports.com itself does just that: It collects consumer data with services provided by companies including Google, Specific Media, ValueClick, Invite Media, DataXu, Bluelithium, 24/7 Media, ContextWeb, Brightcove, and more.
In fairness to Guest, the petition itself does not ask companies to stop online tracking, it simply calls for them to honor the do not track settings now provided by many major browsers. If users want to be tracked they should have that option, too, it suggests. That said, the “looking over your shoulder” metaphor sets a clear tone for the email, which makes no attempt to inform users that Consumer Reports itself makes use of these tools.
Incidents such as this highlight the tension between consumer privacy and online business models, and the complexities of the situation. Most consumers now expect to consume online content for free, but publishers have to pay for that content somehow. Most rely on selling advertising or data to make ends meet; Consumer Reports included.
Instead of simply focussing on whether or not do not track signals are being honored, therefore, publishers and the wider digital industry should focus their efforts on being more transparent with consumers, and educating them about the fact that advertising and data helps pay for the content and services they enjoy for free.
Companies such as Consumer Reports should perhaps be more transparent about their own tracking practices before taking the moral high ground against other firms doing the same.
With Roku leading the pack, study says 94% of households are reachable through CTV
Connected TV remains on the rise in programmatic advertising, fueled by the popularity of Roku, Samsung and Amazon devices.
Digital investors take time out as British Pound plummets
Don’t expect an M&A frenzy, despite Sterling’s historic low, as volatility cools investors’ appetites.
Member ExclusiveMedia Briefing: The pros, cons of three pricing models for publisher, sportbook content deals
Publishers and sportsbooks are looking for new payout models beyond the standard cost-per-acquisition structure, which is priced on average between $200-500 per new customer.
SponsoredHow FAST channels are redefining primetime opportunities for advertisers
Sponsored by Vevo With the competition from content providers continuing to build, the traditional primetime TV slots are no longer guaranteeing the mass audiences they once did. Television viewership is evolving, and the primetime window of 8–11 p.m. is less broadly reflective of younger audiences’ content consumption habits. In 2022, attracting TV viewers is a […]
The New York Times looks to gaming product to grow subscriptions
The Times' use of games as a subscriber funnel is part of a renewed focus on gaming sparked by the company's acquisition of Wordle in January.
Inside the NFL’s youth-focused social strategy
As part of the NFL Content Creator Network, the league is engaging with fans in new, innovative ways via gaming or just through creative social media activations.