Home  › Stats › Audience/Traffic

Study: Consumers Delete Cookies at Surprising Rate

  |  March 14, 2005   |  Comments

Web measurements based on cookies cited as 'highly unreliable'.

Nearly 40 percent of Internet users delete cookies from their primary computers on at least a monthly basis, according to a study by JupiterResearch. The finding has big implications for advertising and marketing firms that depend on cookies for tracking and targeting.

Based on a survey of 2,337 U.S. respondents, the study finds that 17 percent of Internet users delete cookies on a weekly basis. Approximately 12 percent do so on a monthly basis, and 10 percent make it a daily habit.

"The key finding is that a lot of companies have placed a lot of reliance on cookies for audience measurement and the cookie is at risk as a mechanism for tracking people over time," said Eric Petersen, the lead analyst on the report.

The trend challenges the notion that cookie-based methods produce accurate measurements for marketers. Measurements affected by the deletion of cookies include the number of returning visitors, unique visitors, multi-session campaign conversions, and lifetime value. Techniques like behavioral targeting and personalization are also highly dependant on cookies.

"Advertisers using lifetime value metrics need to reexamine how accurate that data is," Petersen said. "The further away you get from the date the cookie was set, the less likely that the information is completely accurate."

The primary reason consumers remove cookies is that they believe cookies threaten their privacy and security online. Consumers also lack an understanding of the time saving benefits cookies provide, Petersen said.

"For some reason, consumers have identified cookies incorrectly as spyware," he added. "Consumers don't understand what cookies do."

The report found 28 percent of Internet users are selectively rejecting third party cookies, such as those placed by online ad networks. One company researchers interviewed said the number of visitors blocking third-party cookies has increased from less than three percent in January 2003 to 14 percent of visitors in January 2005. Peterson suggested site owners should turn instead to first-party cookies as a standard.

The report suggests that site owners also consider a registration/log-in model, which would allow publishers to re-set deleted cookies. For high-traffic sites where that would be impractical, Peterson suggests they consider using Macromedia Flash's local shared objects, which are less likely to be spotted and removed by anti-spyware programs.

Companies with high-consideration products should pay particularly close attention to the conclusions of the report, said Bryan Eisenberg, co-founder of Future Now.

"From a Web analytics point of view, latency trafficking will be more difficult to do," Eisenberg said. "For sites with products that have long sales cycles, it will be even more difficult to do, because you can't track that traffic over time."

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, August 29 to take advantage of Super Saver Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Stats delivers stats headlines to your inbox twice a week. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

BigDoor: The Marketers Guide to Customer Loyalty

The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

Resources

Jobs

    • Sales Planner
      Sales Planner (Verve ) - New YorkAbout Verve   Verve is the leader in location powered mobile advertising. We manage one of the largest mobile...
    • Systems Analyst/Support
      Systems Analyst/Support (Agora Inc. ) - BaltimoreIRIS (Increased Revenue Intuitive Software ) is proprietary software that helps marketers...
    • Client Services Support Specialist
      Client Services Support Specialist (Agora Inc. ) - Delray Beach OVERVIEW:  This position requires a highly motivated and resourceful individual...