The engineer who invented cookies, what they mean, and how to handle them

The engineer who invented cookies, what they mean, and how to handle them  

The advertising industry has traditionally used cookies to track how many people see their ads and which ones are most likely to respond to them with a purchase, for example.

When an advertiser places an ad online, they use a cookie so that it will remember who saw it later and not show it again.

That way, the next time someone sees the ad, it will be more likely to catch their attention with a click-through from another company.  

What is a cookie? 

A cookie is a small file a website saves on your computer when you visit that site later. This makes navigating from website to website easier without having to enter your details again.  

Sites often use cookies to remember who you are and what you do on the site. When you return to the site again, your browser will recognize you and automatically fill in the details without retaking anything or clicking on links.

Some websites use cookies to provide you with special features or track your behavior, while others use them to track your information so they can target ads to you. 

Who invented cookies for the web? 

Lou Montulli, one of the internet pioneers, invented cookies for Netscape in 1994. At the time, he was tasked with finding new ways to boost the company’s website’s traffic and performance for business clients.

While poring over different online statistics and analysis tools, he stumbled upon a statistic that intrigued him greatly: 63 % of his website’s visitors were also visiting other websites on the same network. 

This was the epiphany he was looking for: to create an idea that would allow people to visit multiple websites from one address, essentially providing a single storefront for multiple brands. The concept for “website cookies” was born.  

How Do Cookies Work? 

A cookie file is saved on your computer when you visit a website. This file contains information about what pages you’ve looked at, the information you’ve entered, and other details that help the website identify you and keep track of your preferences.

When you go back to that site again, your browser will recognize you and automatically fill in the details without re-entering them.  

This makes it easy to navigate from website to website, especially when you’re just entering your details for one particular site. The information stored in cookies can vary greatly, depending on the website you’re visiting.

For example, an online store may use cookies to remember what items you’ve selected so they can remember what you’ve ordered the next time you visit.  

Some websites also use cookies to “target” ads to you by remembering what you’ve bought in the past and serving you similar products based on that data. 

How to Handle Cookies 

Many companies these days are interested in using website tracking features. If you don’t want companies tracking your activity, you’ll need to ensure your web browser settings are set to block cookies.

Or you can use AdGuard to block all cookies. You might also want to consider accepting some cookies from trusted companies.  

Remember, cookies can help websites remember you and improve your experience, so you might want to accept certain cookies from websites you regularly visit.

But you should also be aware of how cookies are being used and what information is being collected.

To be GDPR compliant, you should also remember to delete cookie files and clear your browser cache after each session.  

You can also adjust your browser’s settings to give you more control over cookies, including blocking “third-party” cookie files that aren’t associated with your browser. 

Cookie alternatives for advertisers 

Some advertisers want to track which websites users visit when they click on their ads and how much money they spend. To protect your privacy, you can use a service like OnPush or the ad-blocking plug-in AdGuard.

These services block all ads, including those loaded by your browsers and those served by third-party trackers. So, you’ll still be able to visit most websites, but you won’t see any ads.  

These services won’t work if your browser is blocking all ads or if it has been set to block all cookies. To use these services, you must allow the websites you want to see ads from.

Some platforms let you allow multiple websites at once, while others require you to individually authorize each website that you want to see ads from. 

Conclusion 

Cookies are a useful tool for websites, but they can also be used for all nefarious purposes. The best way to protect yourself from unwanted tracking is to turn off their cookies.  

As long as your computer is powered on and connected to the internet, it will be exposed to tracking cookies. All you have to do is turn off your computer every time you’re done using it, and you’ll be protected from most cookie-based tracking. 

If you are a brand, business, agency, or publisher collecting, storing, or sharing PII (Personally Identifiable Information) then take the first step towards becoming data privacy compliant. 

Showing your consumers that you respect their right to privacy and consent with the Adzapier Consent Management Platform. Subscribe to claim Adzapier CMP free for 30 days

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