“I know what third parties are present on my website.”
This is the response from a typical website operator when TRUSTe recommends an audit of all third party tracking on their site. How surprised they are to discover third parties on their site to which they were not aware. When this happens, and it happens often, the customer typically goes through reaction cycle:
- First: Denial – “You made a mistake. We definitely do not deal with companies.”
- Second: Prove it. Even though TRUSTe identifies the vendors responsible for allowing these additional third parties onto the site, customers often refuse to believe it. In one instance a customer went so far as to remove the identified vendor tag from the site and have TRUSTe rescan. Lo and behold, the unknown third parties were no longer present.
- Third: Appreciation – “Wow this is great. We had no idea there there were other third parties on our site.”
So how do third parties get on a site?
I categorize third parties into two categories: “vendors” and “fourth parties.”
Vendors are those third parties your site calls directly, i.e. you have placed that third party tag directly into its HTML code.
Fourth parties are those third parties that may piggy-back off of a vendor tag to get to your site. As you are not calling them directly you may not be aware of their presence on your site.
Managing fourth parties
Are fourth parties “bad”? Not necessarily – in fact if you are relying on ad supported revenue then you should expect additional parties to be present in the ad chain, e.g., SSPs, DSPs, data providers, etc.
Do you need to know what fourth parties are present? Absolutely!
Step 1: Find out what vendors and fourth party tags are on your site.
Step 2: Effectively monitor and manage these third party tags. Many companies opt for a tag management solution to help streamline third party tag management. Simply put, tag management involves replacing all third party tags on your site with one central tag container. All other third parties tags are then wrapped into this central tag container allowing a site operator to manage all tags in one central place. Tag management allows you to easily manage and remove a tags from your site.
Step 3: Ongoing site monitoring and tag management.
A tag management system alone, is not the silver bullet we would all hope it would be:
- Tag managers can only manage the tags that they are allowed to see. They will not see any new tags added to your site outside of the central tag container – and let’s face it people are fallible. Even though internal policy might dictate that all tags must be added through the tag management system – mistakes happen.
- There are limitations around managing and blocking redirects to fourth parties.
- There is no insight given into client side behavior, e.g., what cookies, pixels or flash cookies are being set.
- There is often no insight into who these parties are and what they do.
For this reason, TRUSTe’s Website Tracker Monitoring Service forms an important part of the tag management ecosystem. We Provide a comprehensive discovery of all vendor and fourth party tracking on your website and monitor your website on an ongoing basis for new parties and trackers.
Our service strengthens our customers’ overall tag management system by:
- Providing complete initial discovery of all tags on a website.
- Providing detailed information and privacy risk analysis on all fourth parties enabling customers to make informed decisions. TRUSTe’s database of over 17000 tracking domains is integrated into our reporting and is available as a standalone data set. We know who these third parties are, what they do, their privacy practices and provide you with this information together with their overall privacy risk to your site and site users.
- Providing detailed analysis of client side behavior e.g., what cookies, flash cookies, web storage, pixel tags and scripts are being dropped and by whom.
- Continued monitoring and detection of unmanaged tags and fourth parties,
- Verifying that the tag management system is operating as intended and only allowing authorized vendors onto the site.
TRUSTe provides integrated website consent mechanisms for users. Additionally, through partnerships with tag management, companies, e.g., BrightTag, TRUSTe has helped customers properly implement and manage their tag management solution. We can help you.