Anatomy of Tracking Links in Computer Science PRnewswire

As any blogger knows, you are going to get a few zillion emails advertising materials and information to share. Worse, you will get 2-3 follow-up emails in case you “missed” the first one (which you actually deleted but forgot to add to the spam list). Sometimes that works well, other times, it does not.

Note: The best thing to do if you are curious is to copy and paste the simple link…avoid clicking on it.

See the complete infographic

Embedded Tracking Links
So here’s one of those emails…you may find the resources handy, as well as the approach the PR person took, worthy of study. Notice that each of the links is actually not as it appears. There are hidden “trackers” in the link that appears.

LINK #1
For example, consider the first link in the resources, Guide to K-12 STEM Resources for Teacher by Norwich University. The link shown appears like this:

https://graduate.norwich.edu/executive-leadership/guide-to-k-12-stem-resources-for-teachers/

That’s pretty straightforward, right? But let’s look at the underlying HTML (code) of the actual link, rather than the text that is linked above:

http://email.prnewswire.com/wf/click?upn=uUicQsJpGx4dACHYemz17hmPkEXHBspRb-2BrqOnMGOFlWgDYWdMHgwi3DAWejWvUl4FsxAlnfXU5KCED5T1e0xkf9A-2BoUuF-2FkqUMuJIaXbkSnTuvV3OXb3msGPtxO9plyY5b98T0f-2FvP5x6aOoL-2BDVKOKs4G-2BORoc-2F2lsR9ygWMZTPPY-2FAu-2B7r3W6vfFMMP47TY7DMCXj6yAqBeWoxvBrgJa-2BSSOiELfRcjOV-2BZAN9S28JXdLbZjS8el-2BfVXhkP6-2FEGyTUYih94Hg8Wsn1bW9ow-3D-3D_P43GRcOIN-2FAH2PO-2FmbzMK4nxfVq7wiBKRnBZ3wQ1FdGZjCRY8Pc9D16cyyESe-2BqXA4W3kJiPZuVE-2BmcveqeMhwvjBEjIEXfu5qT1MqfYKvA80eUDBiD4YwcdWAWWYm5nqOo-2BA-2F11b3nPH-2FkLfbLME7cjrLYO4AWf1KTYOKifeON9wfJM9vJC-2FeMLUFUVFZgwub2D9SJalL3qBJ-2BoX6lBFwyddodvwMYMBAVeAwjDqN9CSP3UArg4-2BUXqHYRYvItipd-2BrJ3ZqRvq0QlLojjH3nauPIm72FSB6S5W5lsmPUJxjXW3-2FijWZ5E-2F58rqfl5Hu

Wow, you can see there’s a LOT going on behind the scenes. Instead of visiting Norwich Online website, which is touted as a “Norwich University,” we see that it’s a click-tracker offered by Cision’s PRNewsWire.com:

Cision distribution by PR Newswire empowers communicators to identify and engage with key influencers, craft and distribute meaningful stories, and measure the financial impact of their efforts. Cision is a leading global provider of earned media software and services to public relations and marketing communications professionals. Learn how to communicate like never before with the Cision Communications Cloud®. Follow Cision on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and on Cision’s blog.

But wait, there’s more to this first link! So, this is an online university. You can read a review about it here, as well as other places on the web. Whether these online university programs are legitimate or not, I’m not sure that their legitimacy is strengthened by an email campaign.

There’s a lot hidden behind that link, right?

LINK #2
The next link in the list is to an infographic. The infographic is hosted at the University of Cincinatti, again an online graduate program. Look at the difference between the link you see and the actual link you click on:

Simple Link:

https://mastersed.uc.edu/news-resources/infographics/the-classroom-of-2050/

Click-Tracking Link:

http://email.prnewswire.com/wf/click?upn=uUicQsJpGx4dACHYemz17hmPkEXHBspRb-2BrqOnMGOFlWgDYWdMHgwi3DAWejWvUl4FsxAlnfXU5KCED5T1e0xkf9A-2BoUuF-2FkqUMuJIaXbkSnTuvV3OXb3msGPtxO9plyY5b98T0f-2FvP5x6aOoL-2BDVKOKs4G-2BORoc-2F2lsR9ygWMZTPPY-2FAu-2B7r3W6vfFMMP47TY7DMCXj6yAqBeWoxvBrgKqiTt6tgAHM5z8U0JlwpybGq04lM52DF09N6EtNr1zId3eQ0hkt-2Bgbh2RIUcvhquQ-3D-3D_P43GRcOIN-2FAH2PO-2FmbzMK4nxfVq7wiBKRnBZ3wQ1FdGZjCRY8Pc9D16cyyESe-2BqXA4W3kJiPZuVE-2BmcveqeMhwvjBEjIEXfu5qT1MqfYKvA80eUDBiD4YwcdWAWWYm5nqOo-2BA-2F11b3nPH-2FkLfbLME7cjrLYO4AWf1KTYOKifeOM1YVHjxFlvNvG35f1xrAyroEZLB8jMNwxBfGFvZU0UzTTjqG8mRHrX0fMKa25uUw6Zov8zzYn1nH4hBgfSV6j-2BDnc1LDv8OlTpNx3PfxT7SISnu2FwZpR3lXFxM5hpuhA-2FikLBWKSv75Em-2FgbXkaG7

Learn how to avoid click tracking in your email from this blog entry. Those annoying emails and click-tracking links aside, you may find something of value from online graduate programs that are doing anything they can to get you to visit their site and get you to give them your money. 

Click-Tracking Email with Pseudo-STEM Links

Note: Below is the full-text of the email sent to me.

As you may know, Computer Science Education Week starts next week on December 4. This week aims to raise awareness of the need to bolster computer science education around the world by encouraging teachers and students to host computer science events throughout the week. These events can include teacher-guided lesson plans, participating in the Hour of Code, watching computer science videos, or using your own resources to help inspire interest among students. It is for this reason that I wanted to share a few computer science resources with you that were just published by renowned universities. I believe these resources can provide K-12 students with valuable information about different career fields that an interest in computer science can lead to, from education and health information management, to electrical engineering.

These resources are free to publish and share. I’m more than happy to work with you to publish these resources in a way that works with your site’s formatting as well. Please let me know if you are interested in publishing any of these resources, have any questions, or would like me to write custom introductions for the resources.

Thanks in advance,
Audrey Willis
Circa Interactive
PO Box 70207
San Diego, CA 92167


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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