Minimal tracking warning

Third-party tracking on the web is a bad deal for high-value sites. For example, tracking can divert ad money that should be supporting a local news site, through a complex set of intermediaries, to show impressions to local residents on a site loaded with illegal copies of movies or music.

But an individual high-quality site can't opt out of the tracking game unilaterally. In order to have a real impact on fraudulent and other low-value sites, the protection needs to be enabled on the user side. And it works. As more users turn on tracking protection, more low-value ad inventory on questionable sites disappears from the market.

Tracking protection can cost high-value sites some remnant sales, but it hits fraudulent and infringing sites much harder.

The problem is how to encourage users to get protected.

An individual site can help to move users from more trackable to less trackable, with a little JavaScript. It will show a warning when the system detects that a user is vulnerable to third-party tracking. Here is a way to make an unobtrusive warning that might sit in a page footer, or on an About this site page.

<span id="tracking-warning-inline"
 style="display: none;">This browser is
 vulnerable to third party tracking.

<a target="_blank"

<script src=""></script>

The script element can go with other scripts on the page, anywhere you choose to put it. And naturally you can change the wording and switch the link to go to your own tracking protection page.

When you inform or nudge users into getting tracking protection, you're depriving low-value sites of eyeballs while also giving users a sustainable alternative to an ad blocker. While tracking protection strategy can turn into a complex topic, this simple start is a good way to get in front of it. You can try it on a low-traffic page, see that it works, then grow from there.

Don Marti · #