We ended 2018 in a place where misinformation—something we fought hard to combat—was the word of the year, where people were more worried about data privacy than job creation, and where tech giants were facing an almost-weekly ethical reckoning. l Consumers felt hopeless and helpless about the state of the internet, and we wanted to put power back in their hands.
We launched Track THIS, a product-meets-marketing experience, in order to create awareness around the pervasiveness of online tracking and give people a way to trick third-party trackers.
Track THIS, a simple stand-alone website, made it possible to step into someone else’s shoe ads for a while by opening a hundred of someone else’s tabs at once.
We created four distinct personas for people to choose from—Hypebeast, Filthy Rich, Doomsday, and Influencer—and curated one hundred tabs based on each of their potential interests, searches, shopping and streaming habits. For anyone who ever wondered what life might be like as an owner of a YouTube tea channel or someone who is actively preparing for the end of the world, this was their chance.
Once a visitor confirmed they were ready to open all 100 tabs, Track THIS took off. All it takes to have a third-party tracker follow you across the web is opening a page once. From there, the trackers began to inform what ads you'd see across the internet immediately, from social networks like Facebook and Instagram to Google, Youtube, and Amazon.
Track THIS showed just how quickly ad trackers can change based on your behavior: both in the fact that you’d immediately start seeing ads for survivalist gear or yachts, but also in that if you kept on browsing regularly, your ads would go back to normal within a few days.
The ultimate answer for thwarting third-party cookies isn’t in opening 100 random tabs each day, though, and the real solution was something we seeded with consumer press and successfully got across in our owned and earned messaging: Firefox now blocks third-party trackers for all users by default, with even stricter tracker-blocking available for folks who want extra control.
In total, over 100,000,000 tabs were opened by over 300,000 users.
Reach and awareness:
Social shares of the site earned around 1M impressions, leading to 313,800 visits. Track THIS also earned 34 pieces of press coverage from outlets around the world, including Variety, Vice, BBC, The Next Web, and Forbes.
“While Track THIS might peel back your eyelids just enough to see the hellscape of ad tracking and intrusive data collection the internet has become, the lesson here remains the same: if you aren't paying for the product, you are the product.” — Forbes
“If you have ever wondered what the internet looks like if you are filthy rich, now is your chance to find out. “ — BBC News
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