FEATURE22 April 2014

The story behind the stories

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An invisible network of trackers powers the data-driven newsroom, but publishers are largely in the dark about how much tracking takes place. Brian Tarran reports.

Andy Kahl, Evidon

Andy Kahl, Evidon

A lot of things happen when you decide to visit a website. Your browser needs to make a call to a web server to request the web page, which is then transferred to your machine and rendered on screen. This all happens in a matter of seconds. But that’s just a fraction of the activity that occurs; the visible bit. Hidden away behind the scenes, a whole host of software tags and scripts are firing off and running; collecting and reporting information to build up a profile of who you are, where you’ve been and what your interests are.

This type of data is hugely valuable for editors and publishers, helping them to understand their audience.

Most people are unaware of this invisible web of activity – but Andy Kahl sees it. He’s the director of data analysis for Evidon, a company whose stated goal is to “reveal the invisible web”. ...