A technology blog for The Economist Group IT team

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Rotten Cookies 

Esther Dyson asked a panel of marketeers whether they were worried about negative publicity surrounding cookies and they way they used them.

I think that she was driving at the way that cookies are used to track people who respond to ads after they have left the site on which they saw them. This harks back to the Abacus/DoubleClick furore that rattled people with they thought that someone could track exactly what they did on the web.

The point here is that cookies make use of some sites easier and are therefore a good thing. Bad things can happen when they are used for other purposes. Cookies are an unsatisfactory fix for something that HTML on it's own can't do and what I think is needed is limiting of the use of cookies to the good stuff.

All that would be needed is an update to IE or the Google Toolbar and the landscape will change overnight.

A new tracking methodology is needed because when a significant number of people don't trust them and delete them every day tracking stats become meaningless.

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