Canvas Fingerprinting and the Top Websites that May Be Involved

August 19, 2014 Sam Laber

Lately, there has been a lot said about canvas fingerprinting and technologies like AddThis, which have become the new mechanism for businesses to track users as they navigate the web. Unlike cookies, which can be blocked or deleted, canvas fingerprinting is a bit more complex…

According to Adam Kujawa, the head of intelligence at Malwarebytes,

“Canvas fingerprinting is the act of extracting information from a user’s browser and using it to paint a semi-unique identifiable token. The method requires the use of HTML5, which is a commonly used standard today, being used from making web apps to games.” (Note: this quote was taken from a recent VentureBeat article, which can be found here).

At Datanyze, tracking users isn’t really our thing, but we are pretty good at tracking technologies. This in mind, we thought it would be worthwhile to weigh in on the discussion by sharing our data on AddThis adoption across the top 100,000 Alexa ranked websites.

With our Targeting tool, we pulled a report of every website in the Alexa top 100,000 that is currently using AddThis.

The results

In the top 100,000 Alexa ranked websites, we found that 12,043 sites (~12%) are using AddThis. (For more information on how we did this, I recommend scrolling down to, ‘How we did this’).

After scanning down the list, it seems that the majority of these websites are focused on delivering content. The results include popular news outlets like Reuters, Fox News and nydailynews.com, alongside a number of comparison sites, pop culture blogs, trade publications and, of course, lots and lots of porn.

The fact that many content-rich sites are using AddThis is not too surprising. If you’re a top online publisher, being able to aggregate your users’ search history, including their use of social networks, is extremely valuable. With more accurate audience data, your ad sales team can increase the per unit cost to advertise on the website, which brands will happily pay for in exchange for more targeted placements and higher CTRs.

Well this is interesting…

One thing we found a bit peculiar is the number of .gov domains on the list — 134 sites in the Alexa top 100,000 and 818 in the Datanyze Universe (all the websites Datanyze crawls). The list of domains includes sites like irs.gov, ca.gov, state.gov and nasa.gov, which all seem to be using AddThis’ technology.

While this is certainly interesting for us to point out, we think it’s best to have you draw your own conclusions here…

How we did this

Each day, Datanyze’s software crawls millions of websites, looking for various ‘signatures’ (bits of code, fragments of javascript, embeds, CSS, etc.) that indicate whether or not a particular technology is present on a given website. In this case, we looked for signatures that correspond to AddThis — one of which, looks like this:

ext/javascript” src=”http://s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=ra

For more information on the Datanyze tool, feel free to get in touch, and we’ll be happy to walk you through it.

We also have a good amount of free technology data across top categories like eCommerce, Marketing Automation, CMS and more via our Market Share page.

About the Author

Sam Laber

Sam is the director of marketing at Datanyze. He's a big John Hughes fan who occasionally fills the DZ office with the sweet sweet sounds of 90s rock giant, Creed.

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