Monday, 9 April 2012

How much web tracking does Rolling Stone Magazine do ?

I was just browsing the web and came across the Rolling Stone 500 Best albums. It's an interesting browse and for sure I do have a some of those albums in my collection. What I did notice was that the website would stall on delivering the content of the individual albums for as much as 30 seconds. Being of inquisitive disposition though I would have a dig in and see if I could locate the reason for the stall. Many website pages include advertising and tracking content so it's not unusual to see a webpage load content from other sites. Often those subsidiary sites are the cause of webpage delivery stalls.

The next step was to find the locations of the external web content using the "Activity" window of Safari. The activity window lists all the open web elements in the browser. Extracting the list of web elements and stripping them down to the domain names gives a list of the external web site owning companies. A quick look at the company website shows the business model of the external sites.

I have to say I was a bit surprised to see how may different web tracking and site analysis mechanisms the original web page was attached to.

There are some standard links to Facebook, StumbledUpon and Twitter for social promotion of content. Links for Google analytics, InsightExpression, Chartbeat, Quantics, Scorecard, Advertising, QuestionMarket, Adsonar and Imrlworld tracking the website usage. Buzfeed and Tynt tracks the social use of content. Finally Cloudfront delivers some extra content. These are detailed in the graphic attached. Click the graphic below to see more.

So who was causing the stall ? As far as I could tell it was This was the only source website, from the collection above, that was individually stalling when showing its front page.

I do find it a bit creepy how much tracking, tracing and analysts is done on a simple web content browsing session. Big Brother is here and looking over your shoulder at the newsagents as you mooch free content.

1 comment:

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