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What is an Internet cookie?

It is normal that we do not really know what a cookie is, we hear it repeatedly and we take it for granted that we know what it is... but would you really understand what cookies are for? A cookie is a small piece of data sent from a web page and stored in the web browser on the user's computer while browsing.

  1. The browser requests the page from the server. All cookies in scope will be included with this request.

  2. The server generates the page. It can access all cookies sent in the request and can add a cookie of its own to include in future requests.

  3. The page loads in the browser, where JavaScript can use all the original cookies, plus any new ones added by the server.


There are basically two types of cookies: first-party and third-party. From a technical perspective, there is no real difference between the two types of cookies, however, the real difference has to do with how they are created and subsequently used.

  • First-party cookies: These are stored by the domain (the website) you are visiting directly. They allow website owners to collect analytical data, remember language settings and perform other useful functions that help provide a good user experience. For example: items you add to shopping carts, your username and passwords, and language preferences you have checked.

  • Third-party cookies are created by domains other than the one you are visiting directly, hence the name third party. They are used for cross-site tracking, retargeting and ad serving. For example: suppose you are visiting, and this site has a YouTube video on one of its pages. In this case YouTube will set a cookie which will then be stored on your computer.

  • There are also "second-party" cookies, which are cookies that are transferred from one company (the one that created the first-party cookies) to another company through some type of data association.

COOKIES AND FUNDAMENTAL PIXELS (depending on how we use the Internet):

  • You don't have to log in to many websites every time you enter one.

  • When you visit a page, it remembers your preferences.

  • It helps you "add to cart".

  • Feed internet advertisements for free (sponsors).

Cookies have also been central to audience buying as the data-driven delivery mechanism. Google's remarketing came out in 2010. In the last 10 years, Google and the advertising ecosystem relied on pixels to help in ad personalization, but the ecosystem is changing day by day. Now the user wants to have more control over the use of their data, hence the permissions pop-up every time you enter a web page!


The industry is changing to meet these higher expectations, creating important considerations for digital marketers:

  • Privacy Controls: the user can now configure their personalized privacy control.

  • Regulatory changes: new regulations, such as GDPR, are affecting how data can be collected and used Enhanced browser updates.

  • Browser updates: enhanced controls are affecting traditional data collection (e.g., third-party cookies and device identifiers). Now with Google you have different tools available such as "Mute this Ad", "Download your Data", "Why this Ad?", "My Activity" and "Ad Settings".

This is just a very superficial brush stroke, but it's a good start!


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