Like it or not, the audience and brand equity that major media companies have been building for years online is being shared with many other parties. According to data management platform Krux, the volume of data collection going on at a typical Web page has increased 400% in the year since the company last surveyed the issue. Last year the company observed an average of 10 collection events on the average page, while this year it has escalated to 50.
The accelerated expansion of demands-side ad platforms, ad exchanges and RTB engines online has created new incentives for all of these entities to collect and share data from the premium publishers on which some of them serve advertising. That audience data can in turn be used to target advertising to that publisher’s audience elsewhere on the Web or even in lower-priced ad inventory that run on the ad networks a publishers uses on site. This growing problem of “data leakage” often hands over to third parties data that it used to create products that are directly competitive with the publisher.
And much of the problem is outside of the publisher’s direct control because the cookies being dropped and tracked by third parties is being shared with an even wider group of partners. More than half (54%) of the data collection at publisher sites now is coming from parties over whom the publisher has no direct control or relationship, up dramatically from 31% last year.
The problem comes from third parties, 78% of whom serve as “ushers” who bring in other data entities. The explosion of business models and players in this game was shown in the sheer number of companies Krux is now finding at publishers sites. This year there were more than 300 data collection parties observed, double the 167 seen last year. While overall data collection is up 5X the amount of third party data collection at sites is up 10X from just a year ago.
Krux, which sells publisher products aimed at controlling data collection, says that data leakage amounts to revenue leakage. The data sharing practice allows for highly valued audiences to become commoditized and sold much more cheaply on exchange and network inventory that traditional media demand for their contextual placements.