Web Analytics Course:
Do I Need Cookies?

Cookies are small bits of information your website can leave in a visitor's browser. It is critical to understand what's their purpose and the impact they have.

If you've spent any time at all on the internet, you've seen a pop-up asking if you'd like to “Accept Cookies”. This has nothing to do with deciding between macadamia nut or double chocolate chunk. This is a choice regarding how you want to track data… and how you want data to track you.

Just like real life cookies, there are both great benefits and great consequences.

If an internet cookie is misused, it can create a trail of activity across different browsers. So for example, if you Google search for a hair dryer, leave the website then go to a new website, you will see an ad for hair dryers. As long as one company has a consolidated stronghold like Google, it creates a problem and serious competitive disadvantage (more on this in lesson #4).

On the flip side, cookies serve a legitimate purpose: improving user experience. They can easily recognize repeat users and also direct customers to more specific web pages. Maybe there's a blog for Christmas specials → cookies can lead to a Christmas discount pricing page. Or a second visit can lead to a returning customer chat bubble. Cookies can also be used to implement A/B testing. Strategic cookies like these lead to maximizing conversions, and cutting the fat off marketing budgets.

Wide Angle allows you to choose whether or not you want to incorporate web cookies. Unlike other websites which only offer the forced choice of “Accept All” – and risk sending your customers' information elsewhere.

From the WideAngle blog:

Until recently, this was the behaviour of the majority. Websites were abusing the complex, sluggish forms to discourage you from making conscious choices. If you wanted access to the website, your best bet was to press "Accept All" and be done with it… These days, plenty of websites will rightly offer visitors an equally visible and equally accessible "Reject All" button.

Not all cookies are the same. For example, cookie NID expires after six months, while ENID expires after 13 months. (For a deeper explanation, check out this WideAngle blog post here.)

WideAngle allows you to choose the best tracking solution for your needs. No more reluctantly clicking “Accept All” and sighing, That's just the way the cookie crumbles! Instead you are empowered to make your own decisions.