Google, Facebook Top List of Sites Tracking Users Most [Study]

When it comes to tracking users, Google and Facebook are so fantastic at it that their properties combined make up the entire Top 5 on Evidon’s Most Prolific Trackers list.

Evidon monitored tracking cookies using their Ghostery browser plug-in and analyzed the data collected to compile a list of the 25 companies tracking users most. Google took the top two positions with their Analytics and AdSense programs, as well as the fourth spot with the Google +1 button. For their part, Facebook’s Social Plugins are the third most prolific tracking device and Facebook Connect comes in fifth.

Twitter is no angel; as the third network in social media’s Big 3, they are also sixth on the tracking list.

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Google Analytics shouldn’t frighten users too much. According to web survey company W3Techs, as of June 2012, 55.8 percent of all websites on the Internet used Google’s free analytics program. To put that figure in perspective, it means that approximately every other click on a link anywhere on the web is monitored by Google Analytics.

More alarming for users are the advertisers using tracking cookies to retarget consumers. On the list of the Top 10 Advertisers Tracking Your Every Move, Google once again reigns supreme. Their AdSense, DoubleClick, and AdWords Conversion are all in the top 3, rounded out by QuantCast and OpenX.

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Evidon monitored the cookies of over 1.6 million users in the first quarter of 2012 for their study. As mentioned in PCWorld, one flaw in this study is that people who use Ghostery are not average web users, so take this information as you will!