Support your favorite business news site. Install Privacy Badger.

Geoffrey A. Fowler, at the Wall Street Journal, shares some good first steps for users to to protect themselves from online tracking, in Don’t Expose Yourself: A Guide to Online Privacy. Read the whole thing, even if you have tracking protection. Lots of up-to-date recommendations on current tools and opt-out options.

But the personal side of web tracking protection is only part of the story. Walt Mossberg ran into the business side of the tracking problem while at The Verge:

About a week after our launch, I was seated at a dinner next to a major advertising executive. He complimented me on our new site’s quality and on that of a predecessor site we had created and run, AllThingsD.com. I asked him if that meant he’d be placing ads on our fledgling site. He said yes, he’d do that for a little while. And then, after the cookies he placed on Recode helped him to track our desirable audience around the web, his agency would begin removing the ads and placing them on cheaper sites our readers also happened to visit. In other words, our quality journalism was, to him, nothing more than a lead generator for target-rich readers, and would ultimately benefit sites that might care less about quality.

High-reputation sites such as the Wall Street Journal can't enforce ad standards when an original content site is in direct competition with bottom-feeder and fraud sites that claim to reach the same audience. But when users install privacy tools such as Better by ind.ie and EFF Privacy Badger, a lot of problematic ad inventory goes away. Crap sites can only make money from users who are vulnerable to third-party tracking. When tracking protection tools keep ad money from flowing to crappy and fraud sites, then the Wall Street Journal wins.

Real, high-reputation sites have branding advantages over generic eyeball-buying. and users are concerned and confused about web ads. That's an opportunity for a high-reputation publisher to get users safely protected from tracking, and not caught up in publisher-hostile schemes such as paid whitelisting, ad injection, and fake ad blockers. (The New York Times gets it too: Free Tools to Keep Those Creepy Online Ads From Watching You)

More info: What The Verge can do to help save web advertising

Next steps: Aloodo for publishers

Don Marti · #

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