Computer cookies: what are they and what are they for?

Surely you have ever accepted cookies from a website, since almost all have some notice about it. These “cookies” are great allies for marketers, but they can raise suspicions about the privacy of users. Do you know what exactly they are and how to use them properly for your digital marketing ? Let’s see it!

What is a cookie?

cookie is a small file sent by a website and stored in the user’s browser, so that the website can check the previous activity of the browser. Thus, it is possible to identify the user who visits a website and keep a record of their activity on it.

Cookies originate in 1994, when a Netscape employee set out to create an ecommerce with a shopping cart that would store the user’s favorite items. To avoid consuming a lot of server resources, he decided that the best way to manage it was by saving the information on the user’s computer … and as they say, the rest is history.

Types of cookies

  • Session cookies : they are the most common and also the most ephemeral, since they are deleted when the user closes the browser.
  • Persistent cookies : unlike the previous ones, these cookies are not deleted when the browser is closed, but when their expiration date arrives or when the user deletes their browsing data. They are used to store information about a user’s behavior on a website for a certain period.
  • Secure cookies : This type of cookie is used exclusively on HTTPS connections and saves the data in an encrypted format so that they are not vulnerable to attack.
  • Zombie cookies : their great peculiarity is that they are stored on the device and not in the browser, so it is possible to access them regardless of which browser is being used. Furthermore, they are able to copy themselves after being deleted, and many times they are used for illegitimate purposes

Cookies in marketing

Cookies have two main functions that are most useful for marketers:

  • Remember if a user has previously accessed a website to act accordingly, for example, by not showing them content that they have already seen several times or by remembering their username and password.
  • Know the user’s browsing habits , for example, to show advertising related to their interests.

The cookies allow therefore make advertising that best suits the interests and previous user behavior and thus have a greater chance of converting.

For visitors to a page, the use of cookies also has certain advantages , such as offering more useful content or facilitating navigation. But it also comes with some problems, such as concerns about online privacy.

Therefore, to use cookies appropriately, advertisers must always clearly explain what types of cookies they are using and what they are for , and give the user the possibility of rejecting them if they consider it appropriate.

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