Cookies, anyone? Not the food type, though. Online cookies explained – e-Why, What & How


Online cookies explained

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With growing concerns over how people’s data is used for the purposes of advertising, plus more, there has been a lot of scrutiny on the use of cookies & other, associated methods of tracking. While there has been a general rise in the use of people-based audience planning which essentially makes use of ID-based tracking rather than cookies in for tracking, a large part of Online advertising still make use of cookies.

But the laws on the use of cookies will most likely get stricter in coming days which is why it is important to understand how the various cookie types work.

Here are the common Online cookies explained:

First-party cookie

Basically, a first-party cookie as the name suggests is used by a Website or publisher when on their own Site. For example, if a user visits a publisher’s Site to read up a news piece, a cookie is dropped. What this does basically is to help define & refine the user experience. This type of cookie will track things like language preferences, location & so on. These can then be used to refine the Content displayed to the user in order to improve their experience & make it more seamless. Website traffic monitored through external vendors like Google Analytics and ads on popular platform like Facebook also uses this type of first-party cookies since they monitor the visitor activities on the publisher’s Site.

Third-party cookie

The main use of this type of cookie is behavioral advertising & re-targeting. The way this type of cookie works is such that tags are added to a page which advertisers can then use to track user devices across various platforms & Websites. This will help build a sort of profile based on the online activities & habits of the user. This way ads can be better targeted based on the user’s interest. This is one of the most heavily criticized types of cookies & bad practices such as incessant re-targeting, cookie bombing & so on as further contributed to its negative reputation over the years.

Session cookie

This type of cookie makes it possible for Websites to monitor user actions during a browsing session. This store temporary information in the browser memory which disappears once the session is over (once the browser is closed). Session cookies are typically used for storing Website login credentials & other important Website functions which helps the site s to load faster.

Persistent cookie

The name tells you almost everything you need to know about this type of cookie. Although this types of cookie usually have an expiration date too, it sticks around a lot longer on your computer compared to other cookie types. How long it lasts can vary from as little as few seconds to as long as 20 years. Persistent cookies are mostly used for Web analytics & they mostly track visitor behavior while they are on the site.  Information gathered by persistent cookies is used by publishers to improve & adapt over time.

Secure cookie

Secure cookies provide a safe way to store user information. These types of cookies are only used on secure sites that use the HTTPS protocol. This ensures that the data stored within the cookie is encrypted as it is passed between the browser & the website. These are the types of cookie found typically on checkout pages of e-commerce Websites & Online banking services.