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Pressured by Google and Facebook, News Sites Slim Down

News sites are in a race to speed up their mobile webpages so they can compete better with Facebook and Google. Sites such as Slate, NYMag.com and the Washington Post are trying various ways to make ad-clogged pages load faster. While some tactics could cost ad revenue, doing nothing risks alienating readers.

Slate, for example, has recently been cutting down the number of so-called “ad tags” on its page, cutting out half a dozen in the past four months, according to its president Keith Hernandez. These ad tags are pieces of code placed on webpages by ad exchanges, targeting firms and analytics services such as Nielsen. The tags help the website sell ads but can make pages load more slowly. Slate’s desktop site lists 14 ad tags currently, according to the ad tracking tool Ghostery, although Slate won’t say how many tags it now has on its mobile pages.

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Publishers who are wary of cutting down on ad tags are afraid of “messing with something that might be bringing in money and untying a revenue model that might be working.”