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The New York Times building. Photo: Eduardo MunozAlvarez/VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images

The New York Times will no longer use tracking pixels from Facebook and Twitter to track its users' browser history, executives tell Axios.

What's new: The company has created a marketing tool that will allow it to target potential subscribers on platforms like Facebook and Twitter without having to leverage its users' general browsing history.

  • The Times will still use trackers on a limited number of marketing pages, but it's hoping to eliminate nearly all marketing trackers in the future. It's working to make this tool work on other platforms, too.

Why it matters: "We're moving away from tracking analytics on people and towards tracking analytics on stories," says Chris Wiggins, chief data scientist at the New York Times. Wiggins says the transition will make the Times a more privacy-centric company.

"Most websites are giving up all of their users' browsing history to Facebook. The Times no longer does that."
Chris Wiggins

How it works: The new tool, called TAFI (Twitter and Facebook Interface), uses machine learning to identify which promoted articles on social media are most likely to bring in new subscribers to the New York Times when targeted to the right people.

  • The tool uses machine learning to identify people's interests on tech platforms, like what articles they like on Facebook or accounts they follow on Twitter, and then targets certain articles to those people.
  • Eventually, the technology will optimize social posts across all platforms, but for now it can only optimize posts within the ecosystem of individual platforms, says Colin Russel, the lead data scientist behind the tool.

Between the lines: The tool will also help the Times save money by cutting off its reliance on paying social platforms and other third-party ad tech companies for their ad-tracking technology.

  • Wiggins says that the company has saved 6% of its total marketing spend by cutting out those third parties. "It's cut our CPOs [cost per order] in half when tested against manual campaigns. ... Our money going a lot further in garnering more subscriptions."

What's next: The team says it's currently building out the tool's functionality to work for other platforms, like Google search, Reddit and Snapchat.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.