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How Are Cookies Used For Marketing Online?

Aug 17, 2007
Cookies are intensely debated as an internet marketing tool today. Chances are you do not trust cookies and are wary of them, or you're not sure what they are.

Netscape Communications developed cookies and referred to this process as "State Management" since they introduce a state to the stateless HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer protocol). The name Cookie was derived from UNIX objects called Magic Cookies.

This is an ID assigned to your browser by a server and stored in a text file on your hard drive. Whenever you visit a web site your browser requests the sites pages from the server where the site is hosted. This server then assigns a unique ID to your browser, which can be used to collect information and store for later use.

Many companies are now able to target users and segment them on the basis of their browsing habits. Businesses find this information very useful, but government web sites are tracking their users too.

Age, occupation, lifestyle, income level, marital status, and buying preferences can be gathered using cookies. How this information is used, depends on the individual companies collecting the information. They can use cookies to better design their products and services thereby reducing the gap between your expectations and the value their product delivers.

Cookies allow for customization of the sites you visit, say you prefer a particular type of music or have a specific interest that is recognized by the sites marketer. Your next visit to the site can be customized playing that particular music or maybe by showing you stories related to your interest. Special discounts or custom buying options can be offered to you, making your experience unique and more enjoyable at this site.

Currently, there is a heated debate going on as to whether cookies are an infringement on your privacy. Many companies have misused this information collection tool. And, sometimes it appears that cookies are a bad thing built into the internet. This is however not the complete picture.

When you are asked whether you want to accept or reject a cookie, try to read the policy of that site, then decide whether to accept or reject their cookie. Web sites are responsible for listing their policies and to make it clear as to whether the company will share or sell their database to other.

Allowing cookies may very well enhance your viewing experience. However, be careful to protect against any potential unpleasant experience that could result. By paying attention as to how the information you convey will be used by the site.
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Sel Patterson: Writer, Entrepreneur and internet marketer.
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