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Exclusive: Ziff Davis Offering Money To Sites To Secretly Track Users

Technology publisher Ziff Davis is offering money to tech sites to secretly track their users, Medacity has learned exclusively.

The publisher is pitching the “Ziff Davis Tech Co-Op” as “a closed door invitation only club of some of the best tech sites (publishers, etailers, affiliates) on the web that share audience information anonymously within the Co-Op” (emphasis is ours.)

There are three parts to club membership: the offer of publishing rights to Ziff Davis content, some limited advertising opportunities, and the core of the club: data sharing.

The Tech Co-Op club offers participating sites $1 CPM for “Active U.S based cookies/ Users each month” which will be tracked by placement of a Javascript tag placed on participating sites. They note in their pitch

“NOTE: We are not an ad network and we are not paying for your ad inventory nor interested in your TAL (traffic assignment letter). This partnership offers incremental revenue for you. e.g. if your site gets 1M Unique Visitors each month, we cut you a check for $2,000 each month.

Every Quarter we will send you a report on how your site is trending vis a vis other members and any specific movements in the industry as it pertains to your site. These are key insights that is not available anywhere.

We will pay you at the agreed upon CPM rate for ALL the MAU collected for that month.”

In our research we’ve found no mention of the “Ziff Davis Tech Co-Op” on the web, suggesting that any sites that may be participating so far are keeping very quiet about the deal.

From a publishers perspective, the offer is not without appeal, however paying to secretly obtain user data on third party sites is at best morally dubious, and at worst could potentially breach privacy laws.

The secrecy of the “club” is the give away: this isn’t something Ziff Davis wants people knowing about, which given what they are paying for isn’t surprising.

A full copy of the pitch as follows:

  • John

    What exactly makes this worse than using Google Analytics and allowing Google to track users as they browse the entire web?

    • John

      …cough…like this site does…cough…

  • Yankee

    Doesn’t everyone do that?

    • John

      sorry…that was my point. 🙂

      However, not everyone – I refuse to put GA on any of the websites I run – don’t care what it has to offer. Granted, I’m just krill in a sea of big fish…but I’m sure there are others like me out there.

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  • Bruce

    This is EXACTLY why I use a VPN. Go get one from either PrivateInternetAccess.com or StrongVPN.com.

    • Miguel

      I don’t know what makes you think a VPN will mitigate this sort of tracking in any fashion, but let me assure you, it won’t. IP addresses are the least of your worries.

  • Johnny Bravo

    Medacity is Hypocrite !