The Problem With IDG’s Media Conflict of Interests

Executive Summary

  • Media entities in IT have a great problem with conflicts interest.
  • IDG demonstrates these conflicts right on their website.

Introduction

We are careful to not have any conflicts of interest in our research. This means accepting no income from vendors or any entity that would influence our research output. This gives us a great interest in IDG’s business model.

IDG Marketing Services?

Under Marketing Services, IDG shows the following offering.

This means that IDG produces content that helps promote prospects to buy — at the behest to those entities that pay IDG.

This means that IDG’s content cannot be trusted, because they write (at least partially) on the basis of entities that pay them to help get sales.

Advertise with IDG

Under IDG’s advertising page, they list the following information. Here IDG lists their major IT media brands like CIO, Computerworld, etc… These are brands through which IDG publishes. 

It is difficult to see how IDG can write unbiased articles, influence key aspects of buying decisions, and also partner with tech marketers.

IDG is not just writing compromised content that is written for vendors but read by sellers. 

IDG is also providing a marketing automation application that uses data that is taken from readers with other data from as they say “third-party applications.”

This makes us suspicious of the data that IDG collects with cookies. So we performed a test.

Brightwork Research Versus IDG’s ComputerWorld and CIO Tracking

We decided to test how many individual tracking items are used on our website versus IDG’s ComputerWorld and CIO.

The following is the number trackers that were blocked by our tracking blocking browser. One is Google, which is not related to what the site does.

The second is Pingdom, which is a service we use that tells us where the visitor is from, how long the website takes to load, and basic performance characteristics. We are unaware of what the other 4 trackers are. But we only use Pingdom and we use it internally and do not sell any information about visitors to customers.

In fact, we never thought of doing this.

This is the number of trackers involved when one goes to the ComputerWorld site. Twenty-eight trackers is quite a few trackers. 

CIO, another IDG publication, has even more trackers, at thirty-one separate trackers. 

These trackers are initiated every time a web page from CIO or ComputerWorld is loaded into a browser.

ESPN’s Tracking

As a point of comparison, we checked the number of trackers to the ESPN sports site.

Interesting. Even a sports site can have 13 separate trackers.

The Wall Street Journal’s Tracking

The Wall Street Journal had only 8 trackers, which is not much more than on our own website, where we only know of one active tracking (Pingdom). This seems to imply that the Wall Street Journal is not aggressively tracking its visitors. First, the Wall Street Journal relies on both subscriptions and on advertizing. 

The Scale of IDG’s Reader Tracking

ComputerWorld averages 4.3 million visitors per month. CIO averages two million visitors per month.

Furthermore, IDG owns 6 other publications in the enterprise software space with a monthly visitor number of roughly 12 million. And when IDG provides information to vendors, they are not going to provide it for just one publication. Instead, it is aggregated for all the publications that are related to one another. That is a lot of information that is being sold to vendors and consulting firms.

  • This means that IDG is tracking all website visitors and is making a great effort to do so.
  • A big part of its business model is selling this information to industry sources.
  • IDG has every incentive to be extremely invasive with its site visitors, and little incentive to not collect as much data as they can from visitors.

Conclusion

IDG is a corrupt entity that is essentially selling out the interests of visitors. They not only have partnerships and advertising that influences the media output, but they serve as a marketing front end for IDG’s customers that are invading the privacy of their visitors.

The Lack of Disclosure

There is nowhere on any of IDG’s websites that express how the websites actually function, or the massive conflicts of interest that control IDG. The place to find this information is IDG.com, which is a site focused on selling to companies and which very few individuals ever visit. They publish no articles at that URL so there is no reason for any reader of ComputerWorld or CIO or other to visit the site.

IDG only tells the truth of how they operate to those they are trying to sell their services to, and not to its readers.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

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References

*https://privacy.net/stop-cookies-tracking/

Categories IDG