Faster Migration to First-Party Cookies Urged

JupiterResearch today is expected to follow up its much-talked-about cookie deletion report with a look at consumer usage of anti-spyware programs and the migration from third- to first-party cookies.

“The first report back in March of this year really set out to identify the problem,” JupiterResearch analyst Eric Peterson told ClickZ News. The follow-up analyzed how many analytics players are still using third party cookies, despite evidence they’re in peril from anti-spyware software.

A look at a cross section of 12 media and shopping sites revealed an overwhelming use of third-party cookies from Web analytics vendors. These cookies continue to be at risk of deletion by anti-spyware software. First-party cookies fare better under the anti-spyware microscope.

Web analytics firms overwhelmingly acknowledge the necessity of first-party cookies, though some firms are slow to migrate client rosters. Though analytics firm WebSideStory was specifically called out for criticism for its lack of speed in migrating clients, the company says all new customers are set up with first-party cookies. The firm also says it makes every effort to migrate existing clients who still use third-party cookies.

“At the end of the day it’s the customer’s choice,” said Jay McCarthy, VP of development for WebSideStory. “Everybody realizes the pros and cons. Even if there are issues with third-party cookies and implementations, the trending people are getting from a third-party complex meets their business needs.”

WebSideStory chief marketing officer Rand Schulman adds, “We don’t believe the sky is falling. We believe that Web analytics continues to be based on cookies, first- and third-party. If that degrades over time, we’ll all address it and continue to educate and talk to the anti-spyware guys.”

WebSideStory says it’s been successful in migrating more of its customers to first-party cookies since research for the report was conducted.

The JupiterResearch report also looked at the anti-spyware programs that pose a threat to cookies. Researchers found the average consumer uses more than one anti-spyware program. One theory as to why is that a program comes installed on the computer; then customers download or install a second application. The software may also come bundled with other programs like AOL.

“We need to see it as an expression of concern,” said Peterson.

Not all parties see the cookie deletion problem as an unworkable nightmare. At a panel at the Ad:Tech conference in New York this week, Young-Bean Song, director of analytics at aQuantive’s, Atlas said about 10 percent of users reject third-party cookies.

“The vast majority of click-based conversions happen in a 70 hour time period,” Song continued. “The best practices are to base reach and frequency metrics over cookies that are alive and well throughout a campaign.”

Song said surviving and healthy cookies account for millions of cookies and can provide a good sample.

Related reading