Privacy as I Say, Not as I Do

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

Daring Fireball: The New York Times's Hypocrisy on Ad Tracking and Privacy

Here’s the thing. The NYT’s website is loaded with several dozen ad-trackers. I don’t know if any of them collect location data too, but you’d be a fool to bet against that.

This report from The New York Times ought to be eye-opening for tons of people and it does a pretty good job of punching a hole in the “your name isn’t on the data, so it’s anonymous” argument. Actually privatizing data is more complicated than that, and most companies have no interest in doing so.

But like John says, NYT are not at all above the fray on this one. I wish I could say they should pivot to a 100% privacy-focused monetary system, but I honestly don’t know how they do that without going out of business. Ads pay the bills in a way that no subscription service is going to do in the modern world. News is seen as free, and in a way, it totally is. The news is just information, and once a news source like NYT report something, it’s out there for anyone, regardless of whether people subscribed to the service that broke the news.

Getting that news is not free, and you need to pay people to get these stories, and this is the dilemma that news companies have to deal with. They’d love it if you subscribed and paid enough to allow them to keep doing their work, but unfortunately that’s just not going to happen anytime soon for them or any other major news organization.

Update: Thanks to Nick Heer for pointing out that NTY dropped this form of advertising in Europe due to GDPR and they're actually doing better than before. Maybe there is hope after all.

The publisher blocked all open-exchange ad buying on its European pages, followed swiftly by behavioral targeting. Instead, NYT International focused on contextual and geographical targeting for programmatic guaranteed and private marketplace deals and has not seen ad revenues drop as a result, according to Jean-Christophe Demarta, svp for global advertising at New York Times International.