Cookie Tracking – What Data Can You Collect with Tracking Cookies?

What is cookie tracking? What data can you collect with them?
  1. What is cookie tracking?
  2. How do tracking cookies work?
  3. Are tracking cookies dangerous?
  4. Data collecting & Data privacy regulations
  5. How to disable tracking cookies
  6. Cookie tracking in the future
  7. Conclusion

Cookie tracking might sound like searching for cookies during a game for someone who isn’t familiar with marketing,

It seems harmless, right? However, cookies, despite their simple name, have faced criticism recently.

With the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), cookie tracking has become a prominent topic in the battle for online privacy. This is just one of the legal challenges that online marketers are currently grappling with.

Cookies are tiny text files that gather small pieces of information about users as they browse the internet.

On their own, they don’t track personal details about you as an individual; cookies track data about your web browser and browsing patterns.

However, when combined with other relevant cookies, they can create an online “persona” that predicts behaviors and identifies browsing trends.

This practice is known as behavioral advertising, and while it provides marketers with valuable insights into consumer habits, it can be problematic when misused.

However, not all cookies are inherently bad. Cookie tracking can be a valuable method for gaining important information about the individuals searching for your product, where they are located, and their likelihood of returning to your website.

Ethical cookie tracking is still possible and when used responsibly, it provides a straightforward, data-driven approach to improving your conversions.

If you still have doubts, let’s delve a bit deeper into the topic.

Cookie tracking enables you to gather data about users who visit your website.

From a consumer’s perspective, cookies are helpful for activities like online shopping because they store data like your cart information even if you close your web browser.

For marketers, cookies provide insights into who is interacting with their content, which pieces are favored, and how frequently visitors return.

This information is valuable for marketers seeking to enhance, adjust, or personalize their content.

Moreover, it offers essential metrics that can guide us toward effective remarketing techniques.

However, it’s important to note that not all cookies are created equal. While certain cookies pose risks and privacy concerns, others are necessary for proper website functioning.

Let’s examine the various types of cookies in our modern “cookie jar” more closely.

How do tracking cookies work?

Tracking cookies works by placing small text files on a user’s device when they visit a website.

They contain unique identifiers that allow websites to recognize and cookies track the user’s browsing activity.

As the user visits different websites that have the same tracking cookie, information about their online behavior, preferences, and interactions, therefore the data collected is stored.

This data can be used by advertisers and marketers to deliver targeted ads, personalize content, and analyze user trends.

Cookies you need

Certain cookies play a crucial role in ensuring a positive user experience.

They enable important features like remembering your login information, verifying your identity, and managing your sessions on websites.

These types of cookies are necessary for the website to work correctly and cannot be deleted by users.

While they are helpful, they are not absolutely necessary. Users can often choose to disable them, but doing so may cause certain functions, such as video players, to stop working on a website.

Not needed cookies

Web analytic and customization cookies monitor the browsing activity of individual users.

They help website owners collect information about who visits their site, how long they stay, and which features they use.

Advertising cookies personalize the ad experience for users.

They are often tracked across multiple websites and assist marketers in ensuring that users aren’t bombarded with the same ad repeatedly. These cookies allow ads to be tailored based on a user’s online activity.

Social networking cookies are a newer type of cookie. They enable users to share website content directly on their social media platforms.

While they enhance user experiences, these tracking cookies have contributed to the controversy surrounding third-party cookie sharing, less than with first-party cookies. Any personal information collected can pose security risks for users. So are tracking cookies bad?

Due to these tracking cookies, new regulations like the GDPR have been implemented.

But don’t worry, you can still utilize cookie tracking to benefit your business while adhering to GDPR guidelines.

What data can you collect with tracking cookies?

According to the GDPR, websites cannot track personal data until they obtain user consent.

However, certain tracking cookies, such as performance and functionality tracking cookies, are exempt from these regulations.

Despite the GDPR, tracking cookies are still very much alive. Many users willingly grant permission for cross-site tracking cookies while they browse websites.

By using tracking personal data, you can gain valuable insights to enhance your product offerings and identify any shortcomings or issues in your marketing strategy.

So, what kind of data can you extract from cookie tracking?

Online shopping & Personal interest

When it comes to maximizing e-commerce sales, cookie data can provide valuable insights into your target audience, how they engage with your website, and their potential to become repeat customers.

Tracking cookies contribute to a smoother online shopping experience by enabling features like persistent shopping carts, wish lists, personalized customer interfaces, product recommendations, and the retention of payment and address information.

Without tracking cookies, you would have to log in again each time you view a new product, which can be quite inconvenient.

Successful e-commerce websites utilize both necessary and unnecessary tracking cookies to enhance customer experiences and drive conversions.

They also enable you to create personalized retargeting campaigns, such as reminding users about abandoned carts or offering coupons to those who visited your site without making a purchase

Language and location preferences

Geographic location and language preferences can also be tracked using cookies. This is beneficial for geotargeting purposes and provides a better understanding of your customers’ origins.

By knowing who is interested in your product and where they are located, you can determine where to concentrate your advertising efforts or identify areas where your marketing strategy is already successful.

Cookie tracking for location and language preferences is also useful for localization practices, which can lead to improved conversions.

Additionally, it allows users browsing in different languages to have their language preferences saved for future visits. This helps increase the time users spend on your website.

Browsing history

Cookie tracking allows you to observe a user’s past browsing activity, as long as they haven’t cleared their tracking cookies since their last visit to your website.

This personal data reveals when they logged in, which pages they viewed, and how quickly they returned after leaving.

Understanding a user’s previous browsing history is valuable for identifying areas of your website that may not be functioning correctly.

For instance, if you notice that many users log off after visiting your FAQ page, it could indicate that you need to provide more relevant information.

Similarly, browsing activity cookies can help you detect broken pages and faulty links on your website.

Tracking traffic

Tracking cookies can provide information about the duration of a user’s visit to a specific web page. This data is valuable for improving web traffic and identifying ineffective pages.

By knowing how long users stay on a page, you can determine if your content is engaging, if your links are functioning correctly, and if your website copy is converting as intended.

Understanding the time spent on pages serves as an effective optimization tool for marketers.

If certain pages cause users to quickly leave, it might be necessary to remove or improve them.

On the other hand, if some pages receive extended visits, they could be promoted effectively through paid and targeted ads or promotions.

A good tool to analyze this is Google Analytics.

It uses tracking cookies to collect and analyze data about website visitors. These cookies are placed on a user’s device when they visit a website that has implemented Google Analytics.

Subpages visited

Information architecture pertains to the organization and structure of a website.

A well-designed site enables users to navigate smoothly through sales funnels and ultimately leads to successful conversions.

In contrast, a poorly built website can leave users feeling frustrated and trapped without finding desirable product offerings.

Cookies play a role in tracking the subpages that a user visits during their time on your website.

This information is valuable for evaluating the effectiveness of your information architecture and identifying areas that can be enhanced.

By paying attention to these tracking cookies, you can strive to create a high-performing website that delivers a better user experience and meets the needs of your visitors.

Regulation of third-party cookies

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have specific requirements regarding tracking cookies and user data.

Although it doesn’t make tracking cookies illegal.

Under the GDPR, sites must have their users’ consent before tracking cookies can collect users’ personal data. Prior acknowledgment and acceptance from the user are necessary.

Similarly, the CCPA mandates that users should be informed about the data collection that is by tracking cookies and how it is processed.

Users also have the right to delete or opt-out of personal information tracking cookies store.

In addition to these regulations, there are many other rules governing the use of tracking cookies.

To ensure compliance, you can request a free website scan from CookiePro. This scan provides a detailed report of tracking cookies present on your website.

How to disable third-party tracking cookies?

Here are the steps to clear and disable first party cookies and third-party tracking cookies on popular web browsers:

Disable tracking cookies in Mozilla Firefox:

  1. Click the three-lined icon and select “Options.”
block first party tracking cookies in Mozilla

2. Go to “Privacy & Security”.

How to disable online tracking

3. Select “Cookies and Site Data” and then “Cached Web Content.”

4. Click “Clear” to clear tracking cookies in Firefox.

Blocking cookies to collect personal information

5. Now, click “Content Blocking” and select “Custom.”

6. Choose “Cookies” and then “All third-party tracking cookies.”

Revoke user consent for cookie tracking at Mozilla Firefox

Block tracking cookies in Google Chrome:

  1. Click the vertical three-dots icon on the top right-hand corner of Chrome browser and then click “Settings.”
Disabling cookies on Chrome

2. Go to “Privacy and security.”

3. Select “Cookies and other site data.”

Block Chrome from collecting personal data

4. Choose “Block third-party tracking cookies.”

Revoke prior consent to third party cookies

5. Go back to “Privacy and security” and click “Clear browsing data.”

6. Select “All time” from the “Time range” drop-down menu.

Revoke user consent for tracking cookies

7. Check “Cookies and other site data” then click “Clear Data”.

Microsoft Edge:

  1. Click the three-dots icon on the top right-hand corner and select “Settings.”
Block Edge from collecting personal information through cookies

2. Go to “Privacy, search, and services.”

3. Click “Choose what to clear” under “Clear browsing data.”

Disable cookies in Microsoft Edge

4. Select “Browsing history,” “Download history,” “Cookies ” and “Cached images and files.”

5. Click “Clear now” to clear tracking cookies in Microsoft Edge.

6. To block third-party cookies permanently, click “Cookies and site preferences” and select “Block third-party cookies.”

Disable tracking cookies

What if I block all cookies?

Websites use cookies to make your browsing experience better.

But if you block and delete all cookies, even the ones from the websites you visit often, those websites won’t remember your personal information.

It’s like being a stranger every time you visit.

For instance, your favorite sports website may not show news about your team right away, or an online store won’t give you personalized deals based on your past purchases.

The crackdown on cookie usage by many browsers can pose challenges for marketers who rely on gathering necessary information.

For example, Safari now has intelligent tracking prevention, and Chrome allows you to easily manage your tracking cookies. Firefox also blocks third-party cookies by default.

But does this mean that third-party cookie tracking is completely dead?

Maybe not.

By using behavioral data from online ads, marketers can gain insights into consumer preferences and customize their content accordingly.

People-based targeting methods can gather unique user data, allowing for targeted campaigns. Brands often have access to various customer data, such as emails, purchase history, and device information.

You can use this first-party to create personalized campaigns that directly address individual customers.

Contextual advertising has also gained attention, where Google ads are placed on pages with relevant or similar content to what is being sold.

For instance, someone searching for a new car might see ads for tires on the same page.

It’s also beneficial to look beyond digital data and understand your customers’ complete profiles. Call centers, for instance, hold valuable data related to consumer pain points.

Tools like Signal AI track conversions on calls, helping brands gain insights into the demographics of their customers.

The most crucial aspect now is to use cookies in a way that complies with new regulations.

Remember to be aware of the major data privacy laws in the U.S. and EU and consult local regulations before finalizing your strategy.

While it’s true that third-party cookies are being phased out, there are still ethical and regulatory ways to use cookies that can benefit your business.

Cookie tracking allows you to better understand your target audience and discover new ways to improve your conversions.

Cookies also enhance user experiences by creating smoother sales processes for customers.

However, it’s important to note that cookies are not a simple “yes” or “no” matter.

When used correctly, they greatly improve web experiences.

But when used improperly, they can harm the important relationships between marketers and consumers.

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