Today was TIMA’s monthly lunch and learn and as per usual I’m going to school you on what went down.
The guest speaker this month was Scott Nelson CEO of the Ad Server True Effect, and the topic was cookies, not the delicious ones your mom used to make or the Oreos that keep appearing in our break room, but http cookies which briefly are tiny text files that are downloaded on to your computer when you… well… when you do anything on the internet. Cookies were originally intended to just transfer information back and forth but have become the key to interactive advertising industry. Scott discussed that cookies do not carry viruses and are not to be feared, cookies by themselves are only a way to obtain data about a internet user, they allow us to do things like use the “shopping cart” function on many shopping sites, the only time cookies become kind of “creepy” or controversial is the way people use these cookies, or people who we don’t trust or know using our personal information obtained from cookies to target us in a unwanted way.
The great example he used was if you spent a thousand dollars at a store and then came back a week later it would be considered a positive if the store attendant knew your name and remembered your preference. Now if you went to the same store and the whole time you were in the store, and throughout the buying process someone was following you around and taking notes on everything you did and said, then after leaving that store the guy with the clipboard and notes followed you around to every new store and told the new sales clerk everything he knew about you from the previous store… that’s where cookies can get “creepy”.
The key to the cookie process is finding a grey area where the consumer/internet user can have a more enjoyable internet experience without feeling stalked or violated. Another interesting point that was brought up was the ability to use seemingly non personal information to make a personal target… for example, gender, area code, and birth date are commonly entered on the internet and in the big scheme of things aren’t considered personal information, certainly not as personal as credit card #’s or social security numbers, but with just those three pieces of information companies have the ability to target you down to 80%… in other words there is only a 20% chance that in your area code lives someone of the same gender and birth date… and they don’t even need to know your name. This makes you think about how much information you volunteer on website like facebook or myspace and the ability this gives people to target and learn about you. To sum it up cookies are not to be feared, and actually serve a purpose to the consumer and not just the advertiser, to make the internet more personalized and enjoyable as long as the data being collected is regulated by responsible companies and ethical people in the future.
P.S. the whole thing caught on tape!…http://qik.com/video/83292
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