Only three news sites - CNN, Yahoo News and The New York Times – out of 22 appeared to use high levels of ad targeting, according to a Pew Research Center study. In these cases, 45 percent or more of the ads were different from one user to the next.
Another three news sites - CBS, USA Today, and MSNBC – exhibited moderate levels of targeting where between 29 percent and 40 percent of the ads were different across users.
Sites with low levels or no apparent targeting included FoxNews.com, WashingtonPost.com, Time.com, and Newsweek.com.
When researchers revisited the sites in January, they found that two - latimes.com and theatlantic.com - showed slightly higher levels of ad targeting.
"By contrast, highly targeted advertising is already a key component of the business model of operations such as Google and Facebook," the study found.
By not targeting ads, news sites miss an opportunity to serve up more relevant ads to website visitors; these targeted ads potentially command higher prices and bring more revenue to publishers.
The center, which studied 22 news sites, identified other trends:
For the study, Pew Research analyzed 5,381 advertisements on the main websites and legacy outlets of 22 different news organizations - including national and local newspapers, broadcast, and online media in late June 2011. In January 2012, the researchers revisited the sites to review the levels of ad targeting.
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Anna Maria Virzi, ClickZ's executive editor from 2007 until 2012, covered Internet business and technology since 1996. She was on the launch team for Ziff Davis Media's Baseline and also worked at Forbes.com, Web Week, Internet World, and the Connecticut Post.
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