Chapell & Associates

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

In 'cookie' fight, it's not clear who's winning

International Herald Tribune - MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2005
Internet users are taking back control of their computers, and online marketers and publishers are not pleased. But they do not quite know what to do about their conundrum - if it is a conundrum, since they cannot even agree on that. Until recently, Internet businesses could track their users freely, using so-called cookies, tiny text files they secretly embed on the surfer's hard drive. Now, with the proliferation of antispyware programs that can delete unwanted cookies, they often cannot tell who has been to their Web site or what they have seen. And this erosion of control over a tool for gaining insight into consumer behavior has many of them fretting.

The Chapell View
I think it's a positive thing that the great cookie debate continues to penetrate the mainstream media. However, I am a bit concerned that industry leaders such as Greg Stuart and Peter Naylor are not reacting very quickly to the problem.

I would hope that we as an industry are beyond the point where we are still debating the existence of a "cookie problem." There's enough credible research out there that demonstrates that:
1. Consumers are increasingly wary of cookies
2. Consumers don't really understand what cookies are
3. Consumers continue to delete and block cookies
4. Anti-Spyware Software companies (many of them at least) are fanning consumer F.U.D. vis-a-vis cookies.

The "value" of cookies is not necessarily a simple message to convey to consumers. In fact, it's much simpler to portray them as spying, or otherwise clogging up computer bandwidth. Nonetheless, our industry needs to take an active part in the cookie discussion - the good folks at Webroot and Epic are increasingly gaining traction.

We're already seeing a negative impact upon Ecommerce as a result of data breaches and associated ID theft fears. Keeping our collective heads in the sand is no longer a viable option.
posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, August 03, 2005

© 2005 by Alan Chapell & Associates LLC