Ad-tech of top-20 newsrooms

In a previous post I tried to find the best newsroom based on unbiased signals such as search traffic, lighthouse scores, accessibility and page speed.

Now I'm interested in the ad stack of those newsrooms: Are they all using Google Analytics? Who is using segment.com and on average how many ad trackers can we detect?

Let's dive in.


By using a combination of Netcraft Site Report and two chrome plugins (Whatruns and Wappalyzer) i went through the top-20 sites one by one and filled in these columns:

  • Frameworks: Detected frameworks both on server and client excluding things like modernizr, wordpress (see next column) or small client libraries
  • CMS: Content Management System powering the site. In the era of Headless CMS sites, CDN's and better devops practices this is hard to spot
  • Main Language: PHP vs ASP vs Python based on the framework used
  • CDN: Content Delivery Network to speed up page serving globally. Not always detected
  • Tracking: Ad-tech/Tracking libraries used detected by the chrome plugins.

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The results

Screenshot of the results below but use this airtable link if you want to see the raw data

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Learnings

It's only 20 sites but lets try and see if there is anything interesting to learn,

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Frameworks and CDN

  • Wordpress powers 7 of the top-20 newsrooms
  • jQuery is on 13 of the top-20 newsrooms
  • Bootstrap is on 4 of the top-20 newsrooms
  • 2 sites are using Angular
  • 1 site is using nextJs

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Hosting & CDN

As expected the major CDN players are powering those sites with 35% Akamai and the rest evenly spread between CloudFront, Google CDN, fastly and such.

Four sites (Revolut, Walmart, Honda and SAP) did not show a CDN but they might be whitelabeled/custom CDN set-ups.

Web Servers are hard to see nowadays but I think it's safe to say that the majority of sites will be powered by Apache or Nginx. Nothing interesting here.

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Ad Tracking

  • 14 sites are using Google Analytics
  • 7 using Google Tag Manager
  • 5 using New Relic
  • Usual suspects: FB, Twitter, LinkedIn pixels, Adobe SiteCatalyst or Analytics,
  • Only one site (Apple) has no ad-tech/trackers
  • Newsroom with the most trackers is Paypal with seven ad trackers
  • Only one site that has privacy focussed analytics which is Paypal, but then they are running that besides Google Analytics

Other articles in the series