Third-Party Cookies Crumble For E-tailers

  |  July 20, 2005   |  Comments

Another study casts doubts on third-party cookie use, this time for e-tailers.

Companies would do wisely to use first-party instead of third-party cookies, according to findings from Coremetrics research.

The company revealed findings from its LIVEmark Index, a service that provides benchmark performance tracking for over 110 online retail brands. It found anonymous traffic accounts for 13.8 percent of traffic on retail Web sites using third-party cookies. Retail sites that have adapted first-party cookies fare much better, with an average 0.6 percent anonymous traffic rate.

Warnings against third-party cookie use have become common of late. In May, WebTrends released similar findings and recommendations on third-party cookie deletion. The Coremetrics competitor also plans to publish updated research on cookie rejection.

"We are identifying the top three verticals most affected [since we've started tracking the trend], one of which is retail," Corey Gault, public relations manager at WebTrends, told ClickZ News. Gault said upcoming research would include statistics on sites simultaneously using both first- and third-party cookies.

Coremetrics offers a solution for clients to migrate from third- to first-party cookies and retain customer profiles. "I think this is a good approach to increase the amount of data Web analytics vendors are able to collect from their clients," said Jane Paolucci, the company's vice president of marketing.

Some believe Coremetrics findings occurred during their key clients' migration to first-party cookies. "I suspect Coremetrics has known this and just didn't want to publish it until most of their marquee clients made the transition," said Eric Peterson, senior analyst at JupiterResearch. "Companies going down the path [of migrating to first-party cookies] don't want to lose their historical data, even though it is not as good as they think. Coremetrics has a good strategy for preserving old data."

Paolucci says about half the company's clients now use first-party cookies.

Anti-spyware programs provide another reason for the recommendation. Many such applications block third-party cookies by default. "As the anti-spyware solutions continue their search-and-destroy methods, businesses will have to determine a better way to collect user behavior," said Paolucci.

Paolucci identifies spyware as one of the top issues facing the Web Analytics Association, of which Coremetrics is a member. "I think it's up to that group to educate the value of collecting consumer information."


Enid Burns

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