Beyond the Paywall

  • Advertising
  • News

In a collaboration between researchers at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and Mozilla, this study examines the news economy and the impact of ads as newspapers migrate their focus to the internet. During the enrollment process, you’ll receive more information about the study and you’ll be asked by researchers at Stanford to consent to participate.

The study will run until December 31, 2022.

Goals of the Study

Local newspapers are essential in the chain of democratic accountability, but changes in the economics of how news is produced, delivered, and consumed threaten their survival. This project measures your engagement with news from different outlets as newsworthy events at the local and national scale occur. The results will enhance our understanding of how the modern news environment works, and which alternative funding models for local journalism may be feasible.

This Study Will Collect:

The data we will collect depends on the types of websites you visit:

  • news outlets,
  • news aggregators, search engines, and social media websites, and
  • all other websites

The specific websites included in each category are captured in this list.

  • News outlet websites:

    • Description, titles, and text content of the webpage viewed
    • The full URL of each webpage that you are on
    • Time spent browsing and playing media on each webpage
    • The partial URL of each webpage that brought you to the article. This will include the webpage and exclude the “query string” containing your search term
      (e.g., if you search for The News Room on Google and get to the webpage “”, only “” would be recorded including the domain ‘google’ and the webpage ‘/search’. No data about the query “The News Room” would be recorded)
    • How far down the webpage you scrolled
    • Identifiers for advertisement creative displayed on each webpage
    • The size of advertisements on the webpage and the size of each webpage
  • News aggregators, search engines, and social media websites:

    • The domain of each webpage that you are visiting. This will exclude the webpage and the “query string” containing your search term
      (e.g., if you search for The News Room on IMDB and go to the webpage “”, only “” would be recorded. The webpage ‘/find’ and the query ‘The+News+Room’ are not)
    • Time spent browsing and playing media on each domain
    • The partial URL that brought you to the article without a query string
  • All other unlisted websites: For all other websites visits that are not listed here we collect:

    • Time spent browsing on the webpage with no URL or domain information

In addition, your Rally demographics survey responses will be combined with study data for the analysis.

Note: Only deidentified metrics and models will be exported from our secure environment. For additional information about our data collection, view our here.

How We Protect You:

  • We only collect full website URLs for sites on our news outlet list
  • We will not collect any data when you are in private browsing mode
  • We will not collect your user name or password for any subscription services or what content you share
  • We will not share measurements data sent to Mozilla servers with third parties that operate outside of the Stanford research team
  • All efforts to aggregate and analyze the data will be done in Mozilla’s secure analysis environment
  • If you leave the study before the end date, the study’s browser extension will be automatically uninstalled, removing the study code and data from your browser

We are committed to data minimization as a design principle in all of our studies. This means we only try to collect exactly what is required to support our study goals, and nothing more.

Supporting You

Stanford University logo

The Stanford Institutional Review Board (IRB) has reviewed this study to ensure that the appropriate steps have been taken to protect the rights of research participants. Contact Stanford's IRB for more information.

Protocol No. IRB-57554

About our Collaborator

Princeton University Center for Information Technology Policy

Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business creates ideas that deepen and advance our understanding of management. Those ideas develop innovative, principled, and insightful leaders who change the world. As an extension of the University, the Graduate School of Business’ work is subject to the standards defined by the Stanford Institutional Review Board for academic integrity.

For more information contact:

Gregory Martin
Principal Investigator

Ready to Rally?

The internet should be used to benefit all, not just some. With your help, we can create a safer, more transparent, and more equitable internet that protects people, not Big Tech.