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Online Behavioral Tracking Pervasive, Keynote’s In-Depth Analysis Reveals -- Vast Majority of News, Financial, Travel and Retail Sites Expose Visitors to Third-Party Tracking; Good Privacy Practices Violated Often

-- 86 percent of 269 leading websites analyzed had third-party tracking cookies and 60 percent had at least one tracker that violated good industry privacy practices

-- Nearly all travel and hospitality and news and media websites have third-party tracking

-- Most surprising is that nearly three out of four financial services sites expose visitors to third-party behavioral tracking; 52 percent of financial services sites have one or more third-party trackers which fail to comply with good industry privacy practices

-- Of the 211 third-party trackers found during the study, only one committed to honor “Do Not Track”

-- News and media sites expose site visitors to an average of 14 different third-party trackers

SAN MATEO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jun. 28, 2012-- Keynote Systems (NASDAQ:KEYN), the global leader in Internet and mobile cloud testing & monitoring, today announced the results of an in-depth analysis of online behavioral tracking on 269 Websites across four industries – News & Media, Financial Services, Travel & Hospitality and Retail. Keynote’s analysis found that 86 percent of the sites place one or more third-party tracking cookies on their visitors. What’s more, 60 percent of these third-parties had at least one tracker that didn’t promise to comply with at least one common tracking standard. A third-party tracker in this context is simply defined as a business that has access to your computer, when you visit a particular Website, so that they can record your browsing history and other personal data, and is a completely separate organization from the owner of that site. The presence and identity of third-party trackers is typically invisible to users browsing their favorite Web pages.

“The number of Websites that allow visitors to be tracked by third-parties may be surprising to some, but as consumers begin to understand that their online behavior can be recorded, enterprises will have to work even harder to ensure that consumers’ privacy expectations are met,” said Ray Everett, Keynote’s director of privacy services.

Keynote analysis showed that nearly all Travel & Hospitality and News & Media Websites have third-party tracking (95 percent and 96 percent respectively). Most surprising was the fact that nearly three out of four financial services sites examined expose visitors to third-party tracking. And of the financial services companies with tracking, 52 percent of third-party trackers violate at least one of the industry’s most common privacy standards – such as participation in industry self-regulatory programs or offering consumer opt-out choices.

Keynote’s analysis also discovered that of the 211 third-party trackers identified during the study, only one committed to honor a visitor’s request not to be tracked via the new Do Not Track feature browser vendors are implementing. In addition, News & Media sites expose site visitors to an average of 14 unique third-party tracking companies during the course of a typical visit.

Behavioral advertising, a common use of third-party tracking data, is an increasingly common practice on the Web and one of the primary ways Websites fund their operations. Third-party trackers place cookies on the browsers of site’s visitors to track a user’s clicks and path through the Web. They also can make note of things like what the visitor buys and where the visitor goes once they leave.

“The Web advertising ecosystem is sprawling and complicated, with hundreds of ad networks all competing to gather as much targeting data on consumers as they possibly can,” Everett noted. “It’s very much still a ‘wild west’ mentality and the activities of aggressive tracking companies can place Website publishers in a difficult position: how do you monetize your Website without alienating your visitors and exposing yourself to legal risk?”

Everett concluded, “Ultimately, the burden of policing third-party trackers falls on the shoulders of Website publishers. A publisher is responsible for the content of their Website, including the practices of the advertisers appearing on it. Monitoring the constantly changing advertising ecosystem is a daunting task, but the consequence of failure is the placing of your brand’s reputation at tremendous risk.”

Keynote performed its online behavioral tracking analysis on data collected from the company’s own global test and measurement network and leveraged the Keynote’s new Web Privacy Tracking service announced last month.

Keynote cross-checks each tracker against a database of over 600 ad networks and 1,000 tracking domains. Tracking companies that do not commit to an industry best practice for Web privacy are then flagged as a violator of the selected policy.

Policies checked by Keynote Web Privacy Tracking include:

  • Provide customers an Opt-out
  • Promise to Anonymize Data
  • Subject to Industry Overview from Recognized Organizations

Keynote Web Privacy Tracking leverages a technology and data partnership with PrivacyChoice which maintains the most comprehensive database of the tracking ecosystem and privacy qualifications.

"Privacy tracking is a natural extension of Keynote's leadership position in 24/7 site monitoring," said Jim Brock, PrivacyChoice Founder. By combining our depth and expertise in tracking-privacy data with the unmatched scope of Keynote's monitoring platform, Keynote's global customer base now has the visibility necessary to protect user privacy and comply with rapidly evolving industry and legal requirements."

About Keynote Systems

Keynote Systems, Inc., (NASDAQ:KEYN) is the global leader in Internet and mobile cloud testing & monitoring. Keynote maintains the world’s largest on-demand performance monitoring and testing infrastructure for web and mobile sites comprised of over 4,000 measurement computers and mobile devices in over 275 locations around the world that enable companies to continuously improve the online and mobile experience. Known as ‘The Mobile and Internet Performance Authority™, Keynote offers three market-leading product platforms:

Keynote Perspective® provides on-demand performance monitoring for enterprise web and mobile sites including online portals, e-commerce sites and B2B sites. Over 2,000 customers rely on Keynote Perspective services to know precisely how their websites, content, and applications perform on actual browsers, networks, and mobile devices.

Keynote DeviceAnywhere is an enterprise-class, cloud-based, mobile application lifecycle management (ALM) testing & quality assurance platform. It is used by over 1,000 mobile developers and enterprises to deliver mobile applications, content and services faster while reducing downtime and testing costs.

Keynote SIGOS offers active end-to-end Quality of Service (QoS) testing and monitoring solutions for mobile, fixed and VoIP communications. Its SITE and Global Roamer products are used by over 200 network operators, content providers, carriers and regulators in over 100 countries worldwide.

Keynote's 4,000 customers represent top Internet and mobile companies and include American Express, AT&T, Disney, eBay, E*TRADE, Expedia, Google, Microsoft, SonyEricsson, T-Mobile and Vodafone. Keynote Systems is headquartered in San Mateo, California and can be reached at http://www.keynote.com/ or by phone in the U.S. at 1-800-KEYNOTE.

Keynote®, DataPulse®, CustomerScope®, Keynote CE Rankings®, Keynote Customer Experience Rankings®, Perspective®, Keynote Red Alert®, Keynote Traffic Perspective®, Keynote WebEffective®, The Internet Performance Authority®, MyKeynote® , SIGOS®, SITE®, Keynote™, The Mobile & Internet Performance Authority™ and Keynote FlexUse™ are trademarks or registered trademarks of Keynote Systems, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. © 2012 Keynote Systems, Inc.

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Source: Keynote Systems, Inc.

Keynote Systems, Inc.
Dan Berkowitz, 650-403-3305
dberkowitz@keynote.com