What are Website Cookies?
Last Updated: September 17, 2021
Website cookies, also known as HTTP cookies, are a necessary function for the modern Internet. As a fundamental part of website browsing, website cookies help organizations deliver a personalized and convenient experience to the user. These cookies allow websites to remember you, your logins, shopping carts, and more.
Specifically, cookies are small text files with pieces of data that websites send to your browser/device, like login information, which are used to monitor and identify you. Websites use cookie consent banners to provide transparency to the visitor about how they use and collect user data.
How are Website Cookies used?
For example, if a user goes online to check the weather, the website or app will require them to type in their zip code. Because of website cookies, the next time that user goes back to the website or app, it will remember their zip code. However, there are differences in the types of cookies being used as well as cookie compliance requirements.
Types of Cookies
The biggest differentiator in cookies is first- and third-party cookies. While they’re both used to track user behavior and have similar purposes, they are used and collected in different ways.
First-Party Cookies are directly stored by the websites (or domain) a user visits. These cookies allow website owners to collect analytics data, remember language settings, and perform other useful functions that provide a good user experience. For example, first-party cookies allow users to add multiple items to their carts on e-commerce websites. Also called session cookies, without them websites wouldn’t be able to recognize a user’s past activities and their cart would always be empty.
Third-Party Cookies are created by domains that are not the website (or domain) that you are visiting. Typically, these are used for online advertising purposes and are placed on a website through a script or tag. A third-party cookie is accessible on any website that loads the third-party server’s code.
Also called a Persistent cookie which is used to create a convenient and faster website experience. They have an expiration date issued to them by the webserver. Basically, persistent cookies track visitors as they move around the website to figure out what users like and help improve their experience. The most popular persistent cookie is a Google Analytics cookie.
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