Cookies — the small pieces of code that websites drop onto your internet browser in order to track your activity, usually for advertisers — have gotten a bad rap recently.
Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla (which makes the Firefox browser) now all plan to launch browsers with default settings rigged to reject cookies or to signal that the user does not want to be tracked.
Go directly to the reasons cookies might die >
That’s a threat to online advertising, which is largely dependent on cookies. Advertisers don’t like launching ads without knowing what a web surfer wants to look at.
A huge business has grown up around cookie-based advertising: For instance, some analysts believe Facebook‘s cookie-based real-time bidding ad exchange, called FBX, could generate $1 billion or more in revenues.
But some in the business are talking about the death of the cookie. Paul Cimino, VP/GM Brilig Digital Data Solutions at Merkle, told AdExchanger recently that he gives cookies “five years at the most“:
We’ve found that the third-party cookie is dying as the number of machines that you can see on the Internet versus the number that you can cookie has been dropping over the last three years. It’s now at around 50%.
Most experts believe the cookie is safe, for now.
But we decided to describe the potential scenarios that might, ultimately, lead to the death of the cookie — and the return of anonymity on the web.
First, let’s define our terms. What exactly is a cookie?
As we already said, cookies are the small pieces of code that web sites drop onto your browser as you surf the web. They record what sites you’ve looked at.
If you’ve been shopping for shoes, you might start to see ads for shoes on the next web page you visit — because advertisers are targeting your cookies.
Cookies don’t give away any personally identifying information about you.