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 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.

The results

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


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

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

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.

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