About Joseph Galarneau

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So far Joseph Galarneau has created 11 blog entries.

Do mainstream and opinionated news sites use technology differently

The recent US presidential election has spurred an intense debate over the influence of news sites that target more politically conservative readers.

While the media has been filled with arguments on both sides that focus on these sites’ content, our interest at Mezzobit is on understanding the technology that powers the Internet without regard to political stripe.

So we decided to compare mainstream media (MSM) destinations against these sites, which we’ll call opinionated news (ON) sites, to answer the following question: Is there a noticeable difference in the advertising, marketing and publishing tech that powers these two types of properties?

The answer ended up being yes. Read more>

Adding new powerful features to give digital enterprises greater insight and control

As we near the end of the year, we’d like to recap some of the new features and updates added to Instant Scan over the last few months. Instant Scan was already the most powerful scanning tool available, allowing users to analyze first- and third-party tag and analytics activity on any page. We have been working hard on our mission to further catalog tags across the internet, growing our database to over 3,000 companies and 10,000+ tags to create the industry’s most comprehensive list of third-party technology.  Read more>

The taxonomy of technology: new vendor categories

As we’ve added thousands of companies to Mezzobit’s technology vendor database, our analysts continue to find subtle variation in exactly what defines specific verticals and subverticals.

It’s not enough to classify a vendor as an ad, marketing or pub tech company. For a site operator to better understand how visitors, data, and performance are affected, they often need to know exactly what a vendor does and how that compares against its peers. For our data scientists, fine-grained classification of vendors and tags helps us to more easily detect anomalies as well as automatically analyze never-before-seen code.

To this end, we’re pleased today to unveil the industry’s most comprehensive taxonomy of Internet technology companies, consisting of more than 300 categories and subcategories. We’ve used a three-level structure that lets users easily drill into greater detail. For example, a company may be classified as ad tech -> ad exchange -> video or pub tech -> content syndication -> podcasts.

One area where this will be immediately valuable is in Mezzobit’s competitive intelligence features, which provide lists of other locations where tags and companies have been spotted. Our scanners crawl millions of sites each month, in addition to anonymized data from customer sites. Because we’re executing pages and fully plumbing tag chains, Mezzobit is able to see page technology that competitive listing services overlook. We hope to soon use our new categories to provide better reporting to customers who are evaluating new vendors or sales and marketing executives assessing competitive positioning.

As you navigate the new structure and discover categories that you’d like for us to add, drop us a line.

New Instant Scan features: Custom code injection and ad-blocking simulation

Mezzobit’s Instant Scan tool enables digital enterprises to analyze all first- and third-party code and pixels on their websites. We’ve just added two new features that customers have been asking for:

  • Custom code injection: Sometimes you want to see how a page responds to a certain series of user actions, a new tag, or different environmental variables. You can now insert JavaScript into the scan either by pasting in code or providing a URL to an external tag. This code can be run either synchronously or asynchronously.
  • Ad-blocking simulation: Publishers are concerned about the impact of ad blocking on their sites. Brand marketers also have issues, as ad blockers shut down a lot of ad and marketing tech instrumentation that drive customer insights and conversion optimization. Instant Scan lets users enable AdBlock Plus during the scan to show exactly how tags are affected. By comparing tag chaining diagrams for blocked and unblocked impressions, site operators can understand exactly what’s getting shut down.

Instant Scan is already the most powerful site scanner available, with a database of 10,000+ code fragments and companies to identify even the most obscure ad/marketing-tech companies, the ability to spider multiple pages on sites, last-mile scanners in multiple locations in the US and Europe that can simulate many browsers and devices, and the collection of more than 100 metadata elements about each tag. The tool also visualizes tag chains, parent/child relationships, and performance waterfalls, with JSON and CSV data exports. Our quick start guide shows a full listing of all features.

We offer a seven-day free trial, as well as long-term free usage of the platform by privacy researchers, academics, and journalists.

For site operators who want to see every transaction, Mezzobit’s full Audience Value Platform enables scanning from the inside out, uncovering even more insights about how third-party data collectors interact with visitors.

How much do ad-tech vendors screen out cloud-based browsers?

A recent survey by Distil Networks highlighted where their analysis saw the largest originators of bot traffic that contributes to traffic fraud. On their top 20 list for bad bots were cloud computing providers such as Amazon Web Services (#4) and SoftLayer (#16).

The ad-tech industry has dramatically increased its focus on reducing both traffic and inventory fraud. Mezzobit has seen the impact of this in our tag-scanning platform, which monitors the situation in two ways. Our customers embed Mezzobit’s scanning technology within their websites, which permits us to both analyze visitor patterns (using anonymized data with no tracking) as well as tags that are loaded in “chains” or waterfalls (where one tag loads another). Our Instant Scan platform does this from the outside for a smaller number of pageviews.

In the early days of Instant Scan, we noticed a marked difference in page tag populations when we scanned from cloud-based browsers versus browsers that were using normal desktop machines on non-data-center ISP connections. This makes sense, as other than legitimate proxies, VPNs, and a few other limited applications, human traffic should not originate from the cloud. This caused Mezzobit to move exclusively to non-cloud machines for Instant Scan.

We did a quick study this week to revisit the topic and found that cloud browsers saw 20-25% fewer tags and vendors, but still loaded a fair number of ad-tech calls. Full results can be found here.