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Having ads follow us around the Internet is just an annoying part of modern life. Whether you’re shopping for a new pair of shoes or browsing your favorite news site, the ads you see are often based on your browsing history and online behavior. The technology behind this annoying intrusion is called the “third-party cookie“. But why are third-party cookies bad?
What Are Third Party Cookies? Third-party cookies are small text files created by websites other than the one you’re currently visiting. These cookies are stored on your device and track browsing activity across the Internet. They are often used by advertisers and marketers to collect data about your behavior and interests, which can then be used to deliver targeted ads to you on other websites.
Why Third-Party Cookies Are Bad
These small files have been used for decades to track online behavior and personalize ads. But they’ve become increasingly controversial in recent years. Here’s why third-party cookies are bad and have come under fire from privacy advocates.
Third-Party Cookies Are Annoying
For decades, advertisers have been using third party cookies to deliver those annoying banner ads that follow you around the Internet (probably trying to get you to buy something that you probably already bought).
For example, let’s say earlier today you were researching automatic espresso machines online, and bought one. Congratulations! Even though you’ve already purchased your new coffee maker, the third-party cookies in your web browser will trigger ads stupidly trying to get you to buy another espresso machine for the next several days. Unless you are opening your own coffee shop, isn’t one espresso machine enough?
Third-Party Cookies Make Websites Load Slow
When it comes to website performance, third-party cookies can be a major bottleneck. That’s because the ad tech connected to third-party cookies often load data from multiple remote servers from around the world. If just one of these servers is slow or unresponsive, then your browser can lock up.
This can have a negative effect for both the user, as well as the website publisher. Users hate slow Internet speeds. And slow website performance can impact both brand loyalty and SEO rankings.
Privacy Problems With Third-Party Cookies
From a privacy perspective, third party cookies are terrible. They they allow companies to track your online activity without either your knowledge or consent. This information could include anything from your favorite websites to sensitive information, such as financial or health data.
Not only can companies can use this data to build profiles and target you with ads, but they can often freely share or sell this data with other organizations. And since third parties do not need to disclose this information, it’s difficult to know what data has been collected and stored.
Without strict controls or regulations, this sensitive data can fall into the hands of bad actors like hackers and spammers.
NERD NOTE: The Cambridge Analytica scandal involved the unauthorized harvesting of personal data from millions of Facebook users and its use to influence the 2016 US presidential election. Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, used the data to create targeted political ads aimed at certain groups of voters, which raised concerns about the impact of targeted ads on election outcomes. The scandal brought attention to the issue of data privacy and led to investigations and fines for both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.
Hackers And Spammers Abuse Third-Party Cookie Data
Third-party cookies can be used for various legitimate purposes, such as for marketing and analytics. Unfortunately, they can also be used for malicious purposes by hackers and spammers.
When abused, third-party cookies can be manipulated to gather private information from users, such as login credentials, IP addresses, and other private data. They can also be used to redirect users to malicious websites, as well as to track and monitor user behavior without their knowledge.
Inability To Accurately Track Advertising Conversions
Consumers hate third party cookies because they are annoying and invade our privacy, but advertisers hate cookies too. Why? They are unreliable.
And since third-party cookies are stored in a user’s browser, they can be easily blocked or deleted, making it difficult to track the true effectiveness of an ad campaign. Also, because there are so many layers of middleware and ad tech involved with third party cookies, conversions are often inflated or inaccurate.
That’s right, for decades, the entire backbone of the digital advertising industry was based on a piece of crappy and unreliable technology.
What Will Replace Third Party Cookies?
So, what will replace third-party cookies? That’s where things get really interesting. The replacement for third-party cookies is first party data. Individual website publishers will now need to collect and organize data for advertisers. This will help increase security and privacy for users, but make it much more difficult for advertisers to deliver scalable digital advertising campaigns.
Why Are Third-Party Cookies Bad?
Third party cookies are universally hated by both consumers and advertisers, but the advertising industry tolerated them out of necessity. But thanks to government regulation, the rein of the third-party cookie is finally over.
RIP third-party cookies. You will hardly be missed.
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