I know it’s not Friday, but let’s ask about cookies today. Who doesn’t like a nice cookie? Well, if you believe a recent survey, almost no one. Web cookies, that is. The folks at Econsultancy ran a survey and found that just 23% of web users would say yes to cookies. They asked based on some new rules about cookie-based tracking that are going in to place in the E.U. and part of those rules will be much greater visibility to users about what tracking is going on:
That 69% of survey respondents are aware of what cookies are and why websites use them may cheer some marketers, but it still leaves a large chunk of web users that may react with puzzlement when they see messages about cookies and privacy on the website they visit.
It also found that a good chunk of users are already managing their cookies via browser settings and that 17% of users won’t accept cookies under any circumstances. Roughly 60% of users might take a cookie but they’ll need to understand why they should. In short, it’s the “what’s in it for me” test. I don’t buy that consumers are happy when they see more targeted ads, which is sometimes cited as a reason why cross-domain tracking is a good thing. I think the “creepy” factor is off the charts, frankly. Saving site settings for improve a shopping experience or allowing a site to count visitors and understand site usage might be OK in most folks’ minds – it is in mine – but the survey found that any use that isn’t related to a user’s concerns doesn’t pass the smell test.
I keep waiting for the year in which everyone is going to get serious about balancing privacy concerns with the need for data. The fact that we’re still amazed when unscrupulous people sell “undeletable” cookies and even businesses that use these services claim no knowledge about what a privacy invasion they are is ridiculous. Maybe this is the year, although what the E.U. is doing is not really a great solution. Still, as an industry, if we’re not going to act with users in mind, their representatives are going to force imperfect solutions in the absence of grown-up behavior.
Sour milk with those cookies?