Nearly 40 percent of Internet users delete cookies from their primary computers on at least a monthly basis, according to a study by JupiterResearch. The finding has big implications for advertising and marketing firms that depend on cookies for tracking and targeting.
Based on a survey of 2,337 U.S. respondents, the study finds that 17 percent of Internet users delete cookies on a weekly basis. Approximately 12 percent do so on a monthly basis, and 10 percent make it a daily habit. The trend challenges the notion that cookie-based methods produce accurate measurements for marketers. Measurements affected by the deletion of cookies include the number of returning visitors, unique visitors, multi-session campaign conversions, and lifetime value. Techniques like behavioral targeting and personalization are also highly dependant on cookies. The primary reason consumers remove cookies is that they believe cookies threaten their privacy and security online. Consumers also lack an understanding of the time saving benefits cookies provide. The report suggests that site owners also consider a registration/log-in model, which would allow publishers to re-set deleted cookies. For high-traffic sites where that would be impractical, Peterson suggests they consider using Macromedia Flash’s local shared objects, which are less likely to be spotted and removed by anti-spy ware programs.