Chapell & Associates

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Rising Cookie Rejection Bites Into Metrics

DMNews - July 11, 2005
Marketers assembled this week at the Ad:tech Chicago conference to discuss the finer points of online marketing must chew on the growing rejection of cookies. As recent studies show, consumers increasingly resist the placement on their computers of cookies - small files that Web sites use to identify users and serve targeted online ads and copy. A cookie rejection study from online analytics firm WebTrends Inc. found average third-party cookie rejection rates across all industries have risen more than fourfold in 16 months, from 2.84 percent of online visitors in January 2004 to 12.4 percent in April 2005.

The Chapell View
I'm not commenting specifically on this article - my thoughts are focused upon Webtrends recent announcement that they've switched most of the clients over to first party cookies. A friend of mine who happens to work for an online publication asked me for my thoughts on this news. I wanted to share my response with everyone...

Well it's definitely self-promotion, but that's not what I would take issue with. And I can't really speak to the integrity or accuracy of the research. There are others out there who could probably weigh in on that. So here's my take...

I think its nice that Webtrends has figured out an ok, albeit short-term, workaround for the "cookie deletion" issue. But the real takeaway here is what the company is responding TO. One of the reasons that they're getting better results with first party cookies is that Anti-spyware software companies aren't yanking them off of desktops as quickly as third party cookies. Consumers seem to fear third party cookies more so than first party cookies, and some anti-spyware companies seem to be playing into those fears.

So while I think this will help Webtrends and their customers over the short term, this type of move is harmful to online media over the long term for several reasons:

- It's somewhat of a concession that third party cookies are somehow bad.
- It addresses the symptom without addressing the problem.

It's not the type of cookie (1st party vs. 3rd party) that should be at issue, it's the BEHAVIOR that needs to be addressed.

You and I have talked about addressing "the cookie issue." I feel that our industry needs to respond to perception issues vis-a-vis the cookie. In a sense, Webtrends is offering a response. But is this the best we've got?
posted by Alan on Tuesday, July 26, 2005

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