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What Are Web Cookies? - Use & Controversy

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  • 0:00 Internet Cookies
  • 1:42 Digital Marketing
  • 3:27 Privacy Strategies
  • 3:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Stacey Taylor

Stacey Taylor currently teaches college business courses and holds an MBA degree.

Cookies play a major role in digital marketing. In this lesson, we'll discuss what cookies are, identify their role in digital marketing and go over the controversies surrounding how useful they are in a digital marketing plan.

Internet Cookies

When we hear the word 'cookies,' we probably think of sweet, edible treats. However, in the technology world, cookies are far from edible, or delicious. Cookies, also known as web or Internet cookies, are made up of information sent from a website and stored on a user's computer.

To make the concept of cookies a little cleaner, let's paint a more vivid picture. Imagine you're in the mood to shop and begin roaming the Internet. You visit a store's website and start browsing the merchandise. What you might not be aware of is that the site creates cookies, which are then stored on your computer. Now, not all websites use cookies, but for those that do, cookies are created to track your every move on a website. Things such as your user preferences or registration details are stored on your computer. Then, when you make a future visit to that same website, your shopping experience is more personalized.

Have you ever shopped on a website, added items to the shopping cart, left the website and returned later to see all of your items still in the cart? What about revisiting a website that allows you to enter without having to retype user names or passwords? If so, you have witnessed web cookies in action.

Since cookies allow websites to track their users' Internet surfing habits and interests, they are favorable among marketers. Cookies allow marketers to know what products and services their users like so they can tailor websites for specific users and send them online advertisements based on their product and service interests. However, with the increase in consumer awareness and privacy issues, the use of cookies has become very debatable. Let's take a look at the controversies surrounding web cookies in digital marketing.

Digital Marketing

In order to fully understand the importance of cookies, we must first understand digital marketing. When products or brands are promoted by multiple digital platforms, it's called digital marketing. Have you ever surfed the Internet for the best deal on a specific product brand and noticed that no matter which website you visited, personalized ads about that specific product brand appeared? If so, your web browser created cookies to customize ads based on your browsing behavior.

Digital marketers use cookies as a strategy to create advertisements designed for their target audience. This is done by tracking customers' website browsing behavior. While this process has been an effective one in the past, digital marketers now face challenges when it comes to the way they target audiences.

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