Google and Facebook Are World’s Most Prolific Web Trackers
- In ranking the top 25 third party trackers worldwide, the entire top five consisted of Google and Facebook applications.
- Google has the greatest reach by far, mainly because more than 70 percent of all unique domains have taken advantage of its free traffic analytics tool.
- Facebook scored highest with its social plugins, such as the ubiquitous “like” button, followed by its Facebook Connect application.
- More than 80 percent of all websites contain at least one third party tracker, with most averaging four or five.
While Google AdSense ranked as the number two tracker in the top 25 and was joined by DoubleClick and AdWord (both of which are also owned by Google), this study noted that people now tend to click on social media tags and analytics more frequently than paid-for ad trackers. And since the tracking continues when people log onto their favorite social media sites, its small wonder that industry giants Google and Facebook lead all others in their ability to obtain, compile and analyze web traffic.
Of course, web tracking is now facing significant challenges from regulators and others concerned about consumer privacy. For example, the sweeping new EU e-privacy directive requires all marketers and website owners operating in any EU country to obtain consent from European users before implementing cookies or other technologies to capture online visitor information.
In addition, both Google and Facebook have recently amended their privacy policies, with Google announcing it will soon consolidate all data into a single platform.
Marketers must be proactive and adjust marketing practices to accommodate new and evolving realities like these. We’re going to have to re-think our strategies as we:
- create appropriate formats for customer opt-in (without detracting from the online customer experience)
- cope with a potential reduction in the amount of available customer data
- work to maintain control of data on our sites
As Scott Meyer, Evidon Founder and CEO, points out, “One thing the report clarifies is that these two companies have significantly more tracking reach than anyone else in the marketplace. The report stresses the importance of brands understanding and being in control of the data on their sites. If brands do not maintain this control, their ability to effectively access data could be restricted to a few platforms.”