Most Companies in US and Canada Gather User Data through Third-Party Code without Telling Customers, Survey Finds

Advertisers usually use gathered data to better target customers Most companies allow some sort of user tracking The more money companies makes from ad revenue, the laxer the rules governing data gathering

Most companies in the US and Canada allow third-party services to use tracking code and gather data on their customers, and they rarely inform users of this practice, according to a new privacy survey.

Companies usually explicitly define their consumer data privacy policies, but it turns out that most of the companies don’t follow through on their promise and don’t tell customers that they allow tracking code from third-party services on their websites.

The captured data usually falls into the hands of advertisers who use it to better target customers. When a website collects data on aspects like behavior, location or device type, it’s much easier to create a custom ad profile. Unfortunately, companies’ lack of openness about these practices makes the entire process unethical. And because people don’t know about the collected data, they can’t control it.

“Polling more than 1,400 business leaders at companies of varying sizes and industries, the survey found that third-party ad tracking is ubiquitous — 100% of respondents said their companies allow it, and 57% are ’comfortable‘ or ’very comfortable‘ with the way third-parties use customer data,” says Zoho.

Moreover, 55 percent of respondents said their companies have well-defined data privacy policies that are strictly applied. The way the organization deals with the gathered data directly relates to how much revenue is derived from the practice.

“What’s more, the majority of businesses do not see it necessary to inform customers that they are being tracked,” the survey also found. “B2B businesses are more likely to keep third-party ad tracking secret from customers, with 72% admitting they know tracking happens and don’t inform customers, compared to 58% of B2C respondents.”

While users might be oblivious to companies’ online practices, the survey showed that organizations themselves are on the other side of the spectrum. Eighty-five percent of companies are aware that some third-party code automatically installs tracking code onto its website from organizations with no direct relationship.