Spiegel Offers Anti-Tracking Measure, For A Price

Privacy regulations are becoming more stringent, that is no secret, but until recently the fightback hadn’t begun. All that is set to change with publishers developing anti-tracking options.

The German company,Spiegel, responsible for the weekly publication, Der Spiegel have already released a paid subscription that contains zero tracking-adds and contains an option to not be tracked by third parties. This neat feature comes with several benefits, not only does it counter recent privacy restrictions, it obviously prevents tracking but also combats cross-site tracking.

Good times

It was a pleasant surprise to some users who have fallen in love with the feature released just four days before Valentine’s day. Since then they have been able to enjoy their content ad-free with tracking activated or if they chose the Pur subscription they can enjoy the site without tracking for under 5 euros a month. It gets better if you are a subscriber to Spigel+ the upgrade is less than 2 euros.

Not totally ad-free

The publisher has stated that with the Pur subscription that some of the adverts do remain, for instance, Podcast adverts because the technical work involved with removing them would be inefficient. They also commented that there is a minimal amount of tracking done for the companies own, internal analytics.

It would seem that, despite the potential for advertising revenue, Pur is taking a stand and sending a message about the importance of maintaining programmatic advertising revenues. The company has announced that there is a pending law known as Planet49 regulation that is set to come in to force in German Law.

Almost cookie-free

This ruling states that there are no cookies allowed without users prior consent. The offshoot of this is that users who explicitly give Spiegel their consent will aid the companies revenue massively as they will still be able to charge advertisers a premium price for advertising space. If they didn’t have their users consent then the revenue they could generate from advertisers would be far lower. So the model seems to work best for the company and the user.

The company have said that Pur acts as a tool for users who want to use ad-block. Its target audience is people who want to turn off ads purely so they cannot be tracked.

Perfect home

It is a great place for this kind of application to exist, Germany has the highest rate of ad-blockers in Europe. That being said that is somewhat tailing off as advertising systems improve and content publishers are being more open about how they are paid for their content.

The digital strategy consultant for Spiegel, Oliver Von Wersch had this to say, “With Spiegel Pur, this is a tiny glimpse of how the internet of the future will look. Spiegel has become the first-mover in this instance. It has always had the willingness to be first, and now it is.”

Although technically it’s not the very first. Pur is inspired by the Standard’s consent framework. It is one of a handful of publishers that offer anti-tracking, even massive publications such as The Washington Post, have got in on the act, but Pur seemingly is far more explicit in how it handles it.

It isn’t without its critics though. Thomas Baekdel, a media analyst has questioned its legality stating: “If they are discussing ‘pay to not be tracked’, I don’t see how that would be accepted by the European Union. It would dramatically undermine what the General Data Protection Regulation was designed to do. Publishers can offer an ad-free version for a price, but the tracking part is not legal to require payment to avoid.”

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