101: Understanding Digital Cookies…Yum

I didn't know that much about cookies when I first started at Knotice. I thought they were one of two things: A scrumptious sugary treat, or something that was bad for your computer. I had to realize what a cookie actually did when it came to the online world, and the difference between the different types. I thought that others out there might also be in search of a good recipe for basic digital cookie baking questions. Here's what I found.

First off, a cookie is a small data file that is placed on your computer when you visit a website. It allows the website to recognize you as a user. For example, a cookie allows a site to remember your user information and can help you do cool things like shop more efficiently online. There are two types of cookies that companies typically use on websites to enhance user experience: first party cookies and third party cookies.

The difference in these cookies is pretty much who brings them to the “party.” (The party is the domain that is specified within a cookie.) A first party cookie means that a company directly placed the cookie onto your computer so that the domain from the website matches the company’s domain. An example of a first party cookie is Amazon.com placing a cookie on a computer. A third party cookie would have software company XYZ placing a cookie on a computer on behalf of Amazon.com.

From what I can find, some people block third party cookies on their computers. This is because they perceive third party cookies as an attack on their privacy. Some folks believe that third party cookies provide advertisers with their personal information. That’s not the whole story, but I’ll go into detail on that in another post in the future.

People do not tend to block first party cookies. They see first party cookies as beneficial to their lifestyle. For example, a first party cookie could save their passwords on a site and use their online behavior to give them more relevant offers.

There is software out there that can provide you with first party cookie integration that gathers useful online behavioral data and better matches products and services to your customer’s needs. Understanding the consumer, and giving them what they want, are basic tenants of marketing. First party cookies (and first party cookie integration) facilitate a better shopping experience.

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  1. […] website for targeting a “live zone.” Onsite targeting leverages data integration and the use of cookies to define a segment of site visitors, then display content specific to the criteria outlined in the […]

  2. […] Is behavioral targeting some sort of online stalking? Leslie breaks down the basics behind the different types of behavioral targeting ,and provides some great resources for beginners. (She also provides a terrific overview of cookies, plus the differences between first party and third party cookieshere.) […]

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