Cookie Rejection Cited as Next Major Advertiser Problem

Users who block cookies are causing problems overlooked in the recent alarm over cookie deletion. A report published by WebTrends details which industries are most affected by users who refuse to accept their Web site cookies.

Over the 16-month period beginning January 2004, and ending in April 2005, overall cookie rejection rate rose from 2.84 percent to 12.4 percent. This sharp increase is credited to software that blocks cookies, as well as the release of Windows XP Service Pack 2 and evolving firewall settings. A recent report published by independent analyst firm, JupiterResearch, supports the growth of cookie deletion; citing 28 percent of users as claiming they selectively reject third-party cookies.

“Rising cookie rejection rates are a factor of consumers’ continued misconceptions of what cookies are used for as well as software that makes it easier to block third-party cookies from being set on their machines,” said Jeff Seacrist, director of product marketing. “While the scope of this behavior varies between industry verticals, and even site to site, marketers and business managers can easily ensure they have the most accurate information possible by adopting web analytics solutions that use legitimate first-party cookies.”

The retail industry is most affected by cookie denial, with a 16.9 percent rejection rate, followed by telecom’s 15.4 percent rejection rate. Legal and accounting were on the low end, with a shared 10.6 percent rejection rate. Travel and hospitality sees 11.8 percent of visitors block site cookies.

Third-Party Cookie Rejection Rates by Industry
Industry Rejection Rates (%)
Retail 16.9
Telecom 15.4
Healthcare 14.7
Manufacturing 13.3
Transportation 13.0
Technology 12.4
Media 12.1
Insurance 12.0
Services 11.8
Travel/Hospitality 11.8
Legal/Accounting 10.6
Source: WebTrends, 2005

Users who reject cookies outright affect traffic reporting differently than those who accept, then delete, cookies. Users who reject cookies are never recorded on the site at all, while users who delete cookies are counted as new each time they visit the site in question.

WebTrends calculated rejection rates on top-trafficked Web sites using third-party cookies and its hosted On Demand service.

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