UTMs offer a transparent, honest way of tracking where a user is coming from. This is super important for any company that runs multiple channel marketing.
Making impossible for company to track their marketing effort doesn't protect your privacy. It just makes it tougher for companies to manage their marketing spending.
Marketing is not evil. It's how the world works. You need to market something to be able to sell it.
I feel there is a paranoia about being tracked and privacy, where anything that is somehow tracking, is evil and must be stopped.
UTMs parameters are absolutely harmless and stripping them away offer no privacy benefit whatsoever.
Tracking of all kinds aren't inherently evil. If companies didn't abuse the various ways they tell us are "how the world works", then nobody would ever have needed tracking or ad blockers.
Reality is that no matter how often marketing departments tell us that marketing is vital to the future of the species, people are generally running pretty short on goodwill in these areas. The responsible actors, if there are any, are swimming in a poisoned pond.
Just to pile on a bit, folks who honestly believe in this line of thought should embrace that cliche about marketing being a conversation.
Think about how you reacted to the last intrusive, nosey person you had to deal with. "No, I don't discuss my sex life or my wallet with someone I met in line at the coffee shop."
I totally understand that metrics are needed to evaluate your plans. Problem is, there is a gradient of behavior your team as a whole gets up to, you don't like to talk about the things you do, and the far end of that gradient is some really smelly, nasty behavior.
So in turn, my problem is I'd be fine with a certain degree of tracking, but I don't know exactly where the bad behavior starts. Once data leaks, it doesn't go away. So all of my decent moves involve overshooting and suppressing tracking I'd be OK with, just to be sure.
I don't know a way out of this trap, sorry.
Getting back to marketing-as-conversation, remember the rebellion over ad-popups? Yeah, that was a big moment of going so far the browser makers slapped you down. We heard all the same wailing, and yet somehow civilization survived. I'm pretty sure you can survive me refusing to allow you canvas-fingerprinting, or unlimited rights to run JS on my machine. Or even Urchin-tag-strippers.
I don't think there is one, personally. All the goodwill is gone, and that's extremely difficult to get back.
I think what's important at this stage is that we pay attention to what has happened, with users completely losing trust and faith in advertising, marketing, tracking - heck, even _diagnostic analytics_ - and recognise what caused this.
Then, maybe, we can try and avoid it in future.
Alternatively: Move everything to locked down mobile platforms and keep driving straight towards the latest stage capitalism we can see, and just keep finding new ways to keep users locked in to a platform they despise more and more until something _snaps_ - but that'd be tomorrow's problem, right?
"utm_source, utm_medium, utm_term, utm_content, utm_campaign, utm_reader, utm_place, utm_userid, utm_cid, utm_name, utm_pubreferrer, utm_swu, utm_viz_id, ga_source, ga_medium, ga_term, ga_content, ga_campaign, ga_place, yclid, _openstat, fb_action_ids, fb_action_types, fb_ref, fb_source, action_object_map, action_type_map, action_ref_map, gs_l, pd_rd_r@amazon., pd_rd_w@amazon., pd_rd_wg@amazon., _encoding@amazon., psc@amazon., ved@google., ei@google., sei@google., gws_rd@google., email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, $/ref@amazon., _hsenc, mkt_tok, hmb_campaign, hmb_medium, hmb_source"
Regarding overshooting, try with this: https://adnauseam.io/
"As online advertising becomes ever more ubiquitous and unsanctioned, AdNauseam works to complete the cycle by automating Ad clicks universally and blindly on behalf of its users. Built atop uBlock Origin, AdNauseam quietly clicks on every blocked ad, registering a visit on ad networks' databases. As the collected data gathered shows an omnivorous click-stream, user tracking, targeting and surveillance become futile."
On the other hand, if I'm actively trying to buy something, then I'll appreciate you telling me what you're selling.
If I'm in a bike shop, it's because I want to buy a bike. The shop doesn't need to know where I was earlier. If you as a seller want to know more about your (potential) customers, maybe… ask them?
It is lying on a massive scale.
If I want something I’ m go to look for it not the other way around.
If you track me I will dispise you and will root you out. Sort of /r
"Marketing" spans a very large area of activity. At one end, it's the signage in front of a store, or even on the door, that tells you what the place is.
You probably aren't trying to insinuate that store signage (or the online equivalent, a domain name), is evil, but that's essentially what you're saying by being so broad. That doesn't help the argument, doesn't help you, and doesn't result in useful discussion, so it's probably worth being a bit more concise.
Not only is it not evil, it's a targeted ad! You were _tracked_ to produce that ad!
In reality, that isn't how a good 90% of marketing really works. Instead, you got an unsolicited letter about widget 1 from a different company who bought your data from FooCorp, and widget 1 doesn't even do what you want, and because you don't buy it they sell your data to even more unscrupulous companies to get some return from their purchase.
I think it's important to recognise, though, that this didn't happen because marketing is evil. If everybody had just stuck to ethical forms of marketing then everyone would be better off, and we wouldn't need extensions like this which do screw things up for the people trying to be ethical.
It's just like ads: You can do ads well, and we _didn't_, and now good ads need to be thrown in the trash alongside everything else. The next thing we try and do we should _remember_ these common stories, and maybe next time we can be a bit more ethical and not poison our own well.
There's a big difference between the random online e-shop and the downtown storefront, or even big names like McDonalds. Many places are only successful because they've established a good, or at least reliable, reputation and people know what to expect.
And how are you going to find it? And how will you know that it's the right solution to what you need? And how will you compare it against other alternatives?
Marketing is about all these things--not just advertising.
Since when has marketing EVER given you an honest outlook of these two questions? If you listen to the marketing of a product or service and make your judgement solely on that, then I have a bridge to sell
I'm no fan of invasive tracking or obnoxious sales techniques either, but marketing does serve an objectively useful purpose, as any small business owner will tell you. Demanding to do away with it entirely is just throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
I'm not asking independent third parties to do anything. I'm asking companies to let me do what a Free market is supposed to let me do: Let me make my own educated choices about what I purchase/use, untarnished by psychological tricks and manipulation and tracking.
I'm not defending shady tactics here, I'm being realistic about the functionality marketing provides despite the bad stuff. I get the annoyance, but there's no need to be calling all of marketing "evil" when the free market seems to still be working as it should. When a critical mass of consumers begin blocking all tracking utilities, businesses are going be forced to innovate around it one way or another anyway, and you'll get what you want. It may take a while for that to happen, but that's not a reason to be angry at marketing as a whole. Just continue voting with your wallet (or browser extensions in this case).
EDIT: really, downvotes? I don't even think we disagree, but whatever man. I wish I could be surprised at HN downvoting people trying to be calm and rational instead of emotional and hyperbolic, but that's just cliche at this point. I try to avoid commenting on controversial topics for this reason, but I guess I'll have to add "marketing" to my blacklist of topics as well now.
I'd trust a mechanic's opinion on what tools to buy much more than a tool company marketing department. I'd expect this type of thinking (being sceptical of "marketing") is pretty much common sense these days.
What is marketing? Your local farmer's co-op overproduced corn and is having a sale, they want everyone to know.
How do they tell you? Run an ad! But ads are marketing. This means they are lying?
Your perception of marketing seems really narrow and confused.
Using "evil" like the upstream comments is a bit strong imo, but it's certainly not known for being a particularly "honest" industry.
Saying "marketing is evil" in the context of a comment thread about GA stripping, replying to someone defending a specific brand of tracking-marketing, can reasonably be taken to refer to that variety of marketing: the contextually salient variety of marketing, which this submission and the current thread are about.
Motte 1: Marketing is valuable and helps people spread information.
Bailey 1: Tracking your every move against your will is fine and also profitable.
Motte 2: Tracking my every move is unacceptable and evil.
Bailey 2: All marketing - even writing a blog post or website copy about products or approaches to problem solving - is inherently evil.
I don't know which you were referring to, and I kind of like it this way.
'marketing is evil' meaning 'tracking based retargeting is evil' is not.
> 'marketing is evil'
> 'marketing, in general, is evil'
is "moving the goalposts".
But I'd suggest you're putting a spin of your own on things here.
Maybe that's worth reflecting on? To me, it seemed pretty straightforward that they were referring to marketing as it was being referred to in the post, comments, and link that we're ostensibly discussing.
I am a digital advertiser that works direct with large and small clients. I use UTMs on every ad campaign I run.
Everything we do to hurt these big companies in online advertising also hurts the small ones. They all use the same technologies.
And there was further explanation.
Not so easy when it's a company selling their CRM DB to another company with no notice and no recourse. Or the spammers and call spoofers and... and...
Do we stop buying everything everywhere until backdoor data brokers are all revealed and shut down? All the tracking shops too? How do we get control of the rest of the iceberg?
While targetted ads should technically alleviate this annoyance, in reality it doesn't really work as well as advertised (pardon the pun).
This may be true in theory, but in practice countless examples are showing us—in news story after news story about company behaviours—that this is just not true in practice. Which is what counts.
If you can come up with a way to regulate and/or discern those doing "evil" marketing from those doing benign marketing, please do. Until then, unless we can discern, marketing is effectively "evil".
Also, it's not "paranoia" when you are being tracked. And while there's not much you can do, there's no reason to not do little things you can.
If marketing company derive value off of tracking a user then yes there clearly is a privacy value of stripping UTM from a url. You needn't be that creative to think of an example.
client: "Hi I'd like to see what sort of flights you have available."
"Hmm ok I see that you're linked to us from WealthyPeople.com, guess I'll mark up your ticket price"
There are certainly are markets that open up when users allow themselves to be tracked but allowing users to consent to being surveilled is a fundamental right.
The right to privacy is the right to be left alone.
Frankly, that's not my problem. I don't know what they're tracking and why, but I'll err on the side of not being tracked, however harmless it may appear.
What I really want is an extension that somehow corrupts the UTM data so that the trackers have bad data.
These parameters make the choice for me. They have no benefit for me but block my right to determine what I want to give away.
You do not have a right to track me. As for these parameters being harmless to my privacy, I will be the judge of that. In my opinion everything that allows you to see something about me harms my privacy, so not allowing you to see it benefits my privacy. It’s just a matter of how much I allow you to harm my privacy.
Podcasting's zero-telemetry "just an audio file" nature makes the ads feel harmless too. Podcasts are an anachronism, but they're way less user-hostile than the web.
I don't care at all about the tracking aspect of removing UTM, I care about how it makes the internet shittier to use.
World's tiniest violin, dude.
Someone can prefer the world be a different way while still participating in it as is.
1) I don't have a choice, since everyone does it; 2) many types of marketing are just fine; 3) if everyone stopped doing this kind of tracking, it's not like the businesses would fail.
Unethical marketing behavior is never going to be the make or break point for a company, it's just plain greed showing through.
I just hate
a) having ugly URLs
b) having to manually edit the URLS before copy/pasting them somewhere else.
Many sites nowadays actually have thoughtfully designed URL schemes. But then there's so often this GA crap that destroys the esthetics.
As an example, the URL that triggered me to go find this particular extension was:
(hex chars randomly manipulated for paranoid reasons, hehe.)
So why do we have to justify anything to corporations? Why should we care if they lose some millions marketing to the wrong people? Not our problem. Honestly, it's the company's own fault for trusting user input so blindly. Tracking users is not a right, it is a privilege and it can be revoked.
The extent of my obligation to J. Random Web Business, vis à vis my interactions with them, is to give them their asking price in exchange for their product or service offerings which I consume.
Ad absurdum: imagine if a restaurant could charge you more for food if they knew how hungry you were, or how badly you needed to go to the bathroom. This is not information they need to possess.
I don’t give a damn if stripping garbage out of urls makes it harder for a company to track me. Why should I?
This choice is not available in the case of UTM's, at least not in a transparent way that doesn't involve manually stripping them from every URL you click (which is sensitive to user error).
Its not all about privacy and conspiracy, some of us are just trying to avoid burnout.
I'm not sure how UTM Tags contribute to the modern overload of information competing for your attention.
... from UTM tags?
Reddit immediately redirects to hide these parameters. Definitely not transparent.
Transparent would be: you're aware about the tracking before it can happen
I can request information about products that I might be interested in. The nice thing about this is that I can request it from a source that I consider to be objective, in the context of alternatives.
Advertising from the source is intrinsically dishonest.
Perhaps he or Pinterest has a need for this.
Outside of the browser, I routinely work with urls in bulk and strip them of unnecessary cruft to make them as short as possible and thus easier for me to store and manage. Cruft attached to urls for tracking purposes serves me no purpose and makes for longer urls and potentially more special characters like ampersands to worry about escaping or encoding. This add-on cruft is not necessary to retrieve the resource identified by the url.
Thank you for the offer, but I need no tracking of my movements.
> Marketing is not evil.
It is evil. Every time I search for info, I need to filter out all the marketing bullshit from google results. All marketing is a lie or at least a manipulation with one goal to make me buy something that I wouldn't buy otherwise.
So I will do all I can to make life of marketers harder. I just hate them for all their informational white noise in the Internet.
Yes it does.
Now, the scientist is probably right, the hippo probably goes its whole life not really knowing that it has all these leeches in its butt. It might feel a little pain in the butt, but the hippo probably isn't concerned with why that pain is there, much less how or even if it can get rid of it, it's just something that the hippo has always lived with. The hippo accepts that one of the facts of daily life is that you just need to live with some pain in your butt.
Now, imagine (and believe me, this is a hypothetical), if the hippo let someone root around inside its butt and remove every one of the leeches, and even stop any others from attaching. It might take a day or two to get used to and get back to normal, but the hippo would wake up one day and realize that it no longer has a pain in its butt. It can still do everything it used to do, it can frolic in the water, it can roam around and find the tender little pieces of grass, it can do that thing where it poops and swishes its tail around to spread it all over its neighbors, and it realizes that it can do all of those things it likes without having that pain in its butt.
Now, maybe the leeches could talk. Maybe the leeches talk to the hippos and they say things like, listen, hippo, my life cycle depends on you letting me get into your butt when you're in the water. I need to drink your blood and drop out some eggs, so that other leeches can be born and start the cycle all over again. It's not really a big price you pay, I mean sure, there's a little pain in your butt, but I need you to do this. If you want to get in the water, it's just something you have to deal with. It's the price of admission. If you get in the water without letting me in your butt, it's like you're stealing the water.
I bet that the hippo would hear that, and would still want to continue going about its day without any pain in its butt. I don't think the hippo would feel very sorry for the butt leech. Sure, maybe the butt leech contributes to the aquatic ecosystem, maybe its eggs or the dead leeches get eaten by other things and fertilize the grass that the hippo likes to eat. But, if the leeches weren't there, the grass would just find other nutrients. Even though the leech is trying to argue that it's a necessary part of this ecosystem, it's actually just a pain in the butt. In reality, despite what it tells everyone else, the major beneficiary of anything that the butt leech does is the actual butt leech.
Anyway, I just had a thought that advertisers kind of sound like hippo butt leeches.
It's the other 99% that tries to suck all the information they can out of anyone they come in contact with, they need to go.
But on a more serious note, while I somewhat agree that not all marketing is evil, some absolutely is. I do not consider the marketing that cigarette companies did to knowingly hook kids on an addictive, cancer causing substance a good thing; I find it rather evil. Since it can be used for evil, I would rather make it as difficult as possible for them to use it against me. It might be a mostly pointless exercise, but it makes me feel better about it.
And I think there is a cognitive gap in your argument: I am a user, I am not a company, I am not trying to sell anything to anyone. So why should I be empathic towards marketing? Ads, marketing and tracking does zero, if not negative, good to me. And that is why I will have ad blockers enabled at all time.
> Marketing is not evil
Whether it's evil or not doesn't concern me. I just really don't like them.
> UTMs parameters are absolutely harmless and stripping them away offer no privacy benefit whatsoever.
Again, care to explain why is there not privacy benefit?
It is totally not important to me or anyone I want to give a URL to.
GA does not provide any individually identifiable info to its users.
Stripping the params does not prevent google from tracking you internally.
So I am not sure what this is trying to accomplish.
That makes it an absolute priority to cut "you" off at the knees and make your goal impossible, as you have just told us you are scum and need to be cleansed from the world.
Prove otherwise and we can consider allowing you back in the pool with the people who know how to respect others.
Acting like this is a losing battle makes such a foregone conclusion. Marketing is like 0.0001% of the population its ok for the rest of us to disagree and regulate them to the degree required to ensure our continued wellbeing even if this means regulating them virtually out of existence.
However both commercial speech and collection of personal data may be subject to both regulation and technical limitation without raising a constitutional question unlike you know killing people with inconvenient ideas.
Your industry is odious and if 90% of it dies not much will be lost. You don't have a right to make a living in a certain fashion if the way you make a living is detrimental to the rest of us.
Even if I'm the 0.000000013% I and people like myself who don't work in marketing are the 99.999% Our well being matters more than your paycheck.
Personal data collection has a good chance to effect millions negatively in the coming years and I can't imagine why we who stand to lose wouldn't regard people like yourself as the enemy.
If you don't like making french fries apply whatever useful skills you possess to good ends elsewhere.