What are cookies and why your privacy matters

Privacy online is a big deal, but many people aren’t entirely sure what a cookie is (except tasty), or how cookies work. In this article, we'll try to explain exactly what cookies are, why they exist, and why they are essential when it comes to privacy.

What are cookies?

Cookies are small files that are stored on a user’s computer. They are designed to hold a modest amount of data specific to a particular client and website and can be accessed either by the web server or the client’s computer. This allows the server to deliver a page tailored to a particular user, or the page itself can contain some script that is aware of the data in the cookie and so is able to carry information from one visit to the website (or related site) to the next.
Cookies may be either “persistent” cookies or “session” cookies: a persistent cookie will be stored by a web browser and will remain valid until its set expiry date unless deleted by the user before the expiry date; a session cookie, on the other hand, will expire at the end of the user session, when the web browser is closed.

Why do cookies exist?

Cookies were originally invented to make life easier for internet users and created so that websites could remember information about you and your preferences. For example, cookies can remember your login details so that you don’t have to re-enter them every time you visit a website. Cookies can also remember what’s in your online shopping basket, and help you to use the ‘check out´ process online. They only contain information that has been entered by a website, or data that you’ve agreed it can access from your computer.

What other cookies are there?

There are many different types of cookies, and they are used for a variety of different purposes.

Functional cookies

These cookies allow websites to remember the choices you make and provide enhanced, more personal features. For example, a website may be able to provide you with local weather reports or traffic news by storing in a cookie the region in which you are currently located. The information these cookies collect is usually anonymous.

Performance cookies (first-party cookies)

These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance, which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don’t collect information that identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous.

Targeting/ advertising cookies (third-party cookies)

These cookies are used to deliver ads more relevant to you and your interests, also called third-party cookies. They are also used to limit the number of times you see an ad as well as help measure the effectiveness of an ad campaign.

Chocolate cookies

Our preferences might differ here but we think you should ask your grandma because she probably knows a recipe that is a treasured family heirloom.

Is This The End Of The Third-Party Cookie?

The technology used to place third-party cookies is called “third-party cookie tracking” and it has raised concerns about user privacy for years.

Millions of sites currently use this technology to track people around the web, but in 2022 we will begin phasing it out in Chrome by removing support for third-party cookies entirely.

The main reason why Google is removing support for third-party cookies is to enhance user privacy, but it isn’t the only reason. Third-party cookies can also lead to decreased functionality and efficiency on some websites, which can ultimately harm the user experience online.

Chrome’s decision is likely to have a profound impact on the digital advertising ecosystem as we know it today. It will add complexity to ad targeting and measurement, change how companies track customers across their sites and apps, and force brands to rethink how they connect with consumers online.

But what about the first-party cookie?

First-party cookies do not track your browsing activity across multiple sites, they are set by the site (domain) shown in the address bar.

This allows sites to recognize that you’ve already visited and can serve up content appropriate for you. Cookies set on a different domain cannot be accessed by another domain. This prevents other domains from accessing your private information without permission, as opposite to third-party cookies.

For example, if you enter a username and password on a site, it may be stored in a first-party cookie so that you don’t need to enter it again each time you visit.

 What This Means For The Future Of Digital Marketing

In summary, it seems that the real answer to why we need cookies is a combination of these three, especially when it comes to marketing and tracking. But the reasons have shifted in the last year or so. It’s time to toss the myth that you can’t have your snacking and ad-tracking cake without your browsing privacy, too.

At Amanda AI we use the effect model meaning we’re not dependent on cookies for driving the results you’re looking for. Talk to us if you want to know more about how machine learning can help you step up your advertising game and put your infront of the right people, with the right product, at the right time.

Book a demo with us today to get started with automated ads that are not dependent on third-party cookies.

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