Why does my college website have advertising trackers?
May 5, 2014 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Today I installed Ghostery, which is supposed to flag and block advertising trackers, analytics, and beacons. When I visited my college's homepage I found that the site used the trackers adap.tv and Trade Desk and the beacon Rocket Fuel. This alarmed me. I checked a dozen other college websites. None had any ad trackers. So...why would my school have ad trackers on its website? Am I right to feel a bit creeped out by this?
posted by anonymous to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Your school's main website is probably used primarily for marketing purposes. It is not surprising that they are collecting marketing data.
posted by jmsta at 1:06 PM on May 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

I just looked at ten assorted college websites and they all had some form of tracking device on their websites. The college wants to know what market segment is interested in the college. Colleges are businesses, looking for more business. There is no reason you should be any more creeped out about this than any other website online that uses tracking (hint, they all do).
posted by saeculorum at 1:29 PM on May 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

For money and marketing. Marketing colleges is a big business.
posted by synecdoche at 2:00 PM on May 5, 2014

I work in digital advertising and used to work on a college account. Believe me - some of them spend big dollars on recruitment, and those pixels picked up by Ghostery are used to help them retarget, build marketing profiles, as well as analyze their online ad spending to see if people who viewed their banners and online video ads can be traced back to people actually visiting their site.

Rocketfuel, Tradedesk and other ad tech vendors are not using any kind of personally identifiable information (it's all just algorithms), at least not any more than any other site. So no need to be creeped out.
posted by windbox at 3:12 PM on May 5, 2014

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