Tencil Trends: What are cookies and why do I need to know about them?

BACK TO BASICS SERIES by Francesca Gold

Keep seeing the word Cookie in the media but have no idea what it means? Tencil helps explain.

What is a cookie?

Cookies enable a smooth user journey to ensure a user is targeted with the correct message based on their interests. Websites rely on cookie data because of this seamless user journey. It’s important to understand cookies as they have become the most common way to identify users and permit advertisers to provide a personalised digital experience. Over the recent years, however, privacy issues have been regularly discussed and the introductions of GDPR and ePrivacy laws have been introduced.

Why are they important?

When a user visits a publisher site, a first-party cookie is created and stored by the site’s host. These cookies allow website owners to collect data on the user, for instance their language, location or passwords to enable a continuous user journey in the future. Third-party cookies are created by a domain that isn’t the website owner. To put this in perspective, The Daily Mail has 19,136 third-party cookies on their site (Source: Cookiepedia). Wondering how a third-party cookie can be created if the user is on a different website at a given time? For this to happen, a request needs to be sent from the website to the third party’s server. Their main uses are for tracking and digital advertising, and other services like live chats. This helps build a user profile based on habits to ensure adverts can be better targeted to the user.

The future of the cookie

Many tech giants including Apple and Google are prohibiting third-party cookies, also known as Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP). Safari and iOS 11 detects cross-site tracking and first-party cookies to permit them to be used in a third-party tracking or analytics purposes. This can be a hindrance to the advertising world as Apple is seen to sabotages the current economic model of the Internet. More and more browsers are giving users options to block third-party cookies as well, adding to the issue.

More legitimately than that though, is the introduction of GDPR and ePrivacy laws. Users are growing more and more aware of third-party tracking and cookies and the privacy concerns from the media, which creates an added hindrance for advertisers.

Perhaps going forward, advertisers will be faced with a world that demands them to be more transparent with gathering data. This might include communicating directly with the user rather than collecting data through publisher sites.

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