As we navigate the vast and complex world of the internet, we leave behind a trail of digital breadcrumbs – information about our browsing habits, preferences, and personal information. Websites use a data cookie as one of the many tools to track this information.
While cookies can improve user experience and functionality, they also raise concerns about data privacy. In this blog post, we will explore what cookies are, how they work, and how they affect online stores.
What are data cookies?
Cookies are small text files that websites place on your device when you visit them. They can contain information about your browsing history, login credentials, preferences, and other personal data. Cookies can be either first-party or third-party.
How do cookies work?
When you visit a website, the server sends a small file containing the cookie to your device. Your browser stores the cookie and sends it back to the server each time you revisit the website.
It allows the website to remember your preferences and browsing history. It also provides personalized content and targeted advertising.
How does a data cookie affect ecommerce?
For example, cookies allow sites to remember items in a user's shopping cart. They can provide personalized recommendations and offer targeted promotions. But they also raise concerns about data privacy and security.
They can collect sensitive information. It includes info such as credit card details, login credentials, and browsing history. This data is susceptible to exploitation by hackers or malicious third parties.
It requires websites to obtain user consent before collecting or using their data, including cookies. Websites must also provide clear and concise details about the types of cookies used and their purpose.
Are third-party cookies obsolete?
Yes, many web browsers and websites are phasing out third-party cookies. This move is due to increasing concerns about user privacy, data security, and government regulatory pressure worldwide.
Google, for example, announced in 2020 that it would initially phase out support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser by 2022. But due to some delays, it has extended that date to the end of 2023.
Other major browsers, such as Safari and Firefox, have already blocked third-party cookies by default. As a result, websites will no longer be able to use these cookies to track users across the internet. They also won't be able to serve targeted ads based on their browsing history.
It's worth noting that these changes do not affect first-party cookies created on the website itself. Websites can still use first-party cookies to remember user preferences.
The phasing out of third-party cookies has led to the development of alternative tracking technologies. It includes options such as; first-party cookies, server-side tracking, and browser fingerprinting.
The problem is that these technologies also raise concerns about user privacy and data security. So, as with anything new, they are closely monitored by regulators and privacy advocates.
How will websites collect data now?
Several technologies have been proposed as potential replacements for third-party cookies, but none have emerged as a clear-cut solution yet.
Here are some of the most promising alternatives:
- First-party cookies: Websites can continue using first-party cookies created by the website to remember user preferences and provide personalized content. These are not affected by the same privacy concerns as third-party cookies, as they are limited to a single domain.
- Server-side tracking: Instead of relying on browser-based cookies, websites can collect and store user data on their servers instead of depending on browser-based cookies. This approach provides more control and flexibility over user data. The downside is it requires more technical resources and expertise.
- Contextual advertising: Rather than targeting ads based on user data, advertisers can target ads based on the context of the content. For example, an advert for running shoes could target users reading articles about fitness or sports.
- Privacy Sandbox: Google has proposed a set of privacy-focused APIs called Privacy Sandbox. It aims to provide advertisers with aggregated data while protecting user privacy. However, this feature is still under development and has not yet been widely adopted.
- Browser-based solutions: Browsers such as Safari and Firefox have introduced their solutions to block or control third-party tracking. Safari's Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) limits third-party cookies and other tracking technologies. In comparison, Firefox's Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) blocks known trackers by default.
It's important to note that each of the above has its benefits and limitations, and none offers a complete solution to online tracking and privacy challenges. As the industry continues to evolve, it will be essential to prioritize user privacy and data security while providing the functionality and personalized experiences that users are used to.