IAB Comes to Cookies’ Defense

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has begun an initiative to address cookie deletion and other issues related to the ubiquitous text files, ClickZ News has learned.

The industry group’s efforts will begin with the formation of a cookie committee or task force, which has yet to be appointed, according to IAB President and CEO Greg Stuart.

“We don’t know what it’ll be called yet,” Stuart said. “The first order of business is to collect those who care, who we’ve been talking to about this, and to get them together in a room and chart the course. There will be some sort of forum around cookies and cookie-related issues. We’ll begin to identify different approaches.”

He added that consumer education and policy initiatives are possible avenues for work. “There is a gap to be bridged. At the end of the day, cookies work for marketers, they work for publishers, and they work for consumers.”

The move is at least partly a response to recent findings from JupiterResearch and other firms that as many as 33 percent of Internet users delete cookies weekly. However, Stuart said the seed of the idea goes back to late 2004, when the IAB’s board gave it a mandate to get involved in policy issues. The main legislative concern at the time was a pending bill that was thought to endanger third-party cookies. Before the IAB got involved, however, a cookie exemption was added to the bill.

Though the danger represented by that particular bill has passed, Stuart said the IAB will address more policy issues going forward. He said this is partly because the industry is thriving and less in need of the proof of effectiveness that the IAB has focused upon the past.

“You’ll see the IAB move more strongly into public policy and related issues that could negatively impact the business,” he said.

News of the IAB’s plans comes just two days after execs from Carat Interactive and Dynamic Logic teamed to launch Safecount, a coalition that will address marketer and consumer concerns around online measurement — and cookies in particular.

Given all the buzz around the fate of cookies, one could easily forget it’s only been six weeks since JupiterResearch released findings that nearly 40 percent of Internet users delete their cookies at least once a month. That report has been challenged on many fronts, but several follow-up surveys turned up similar results. An Atlas report released earlier this month at first appeared to contradict the results, but the company has since restated its findings to reflect cookie deletion rates even higher than Jupiter’s.

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