D Is For Deleted Cookie

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The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) conducted research into third-party cookies and discovered about 12 percent of Internet users routinely reject those cookies from being accepted.

It’s a simple enough setting to make within a web browser like Firefox or Opera. Just click the option to only accept cookies from the site one is visiting, and that’s it for third-party cookies. No site analytics, no advertising tracking.

Internet Explorer users can do the same thing by adjusting the slider control in the Privacy section of the browser. Even the Low setting blocks a number of third-party cookies.

About one in eight Internet users just say no to third-party cookies, MediaPost reported in discussing the IAB’s research. That research derailed plans by IAB’s board to launch a public cookie awareness campaign.

For now the cookie advocacy plans will have to stay in the oven until more data has been collected and analyzed. The research may be proving a sore spot for IAB. MediaPost noted that IAB CEO Greg Stuart declined to comment on the issue.

The article also cited analytics firm WebTrends and its 2005 research that found a 12 percent rejection rate for third-party cookies. WebTrends markets products that use first-party cookies to assess a website’s usage by visitors.

Earlier in 2005, JupiterResearch claimed 39 percent of Internet users deleted their cookies on at least a monthly pace. The report attributed that activity to consumer confusing cookies with spyware and not understanding how some cookies benefit them by enabling site features like personalization.

That personalization lets a website greet a visitor by name, show which items they may have viewed on previous visits, and make recommendations about new items based on prior visit behavior. For many people, that personalization is a benefit, and one they do not lose by blocking third-party cookies.

Twelve percent of users blocking cookies probably concerns those third-party firms considerably. If that figure were to increase to JupiterResearch’s 39 percent or higher, quite a few companies could be wrecked by their inability to guarantee effective tracking of users or ad campaigns.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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