It is not only a retailer’s dream period, where consumers tend to spend with reckless abandon – just like with Black Friday, Cyber Monday etc…but one for the mobile networks because we spend even more time online than the rest of the year!
Through our increased online activities, we generate even more opportunities for cookies (and not the Christmas type) to identify us so that our web experience can be customised.
Let’s get into the subject of cookies a little deeper, as a gentle reminder of what you are about to do when indulging in more online activity during South Africa’s speed sales of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the extended holiday season.
I sought the expertise of one of our digital strategists, Mercia Lampen, who patiently indulged me on the topic of cookies with a little more depth.
In their minutiae cookies contain information about a person’s interests, building an understanding of what they read, buy, and even the health issues they browse. So whether you like it or not, as you go about your business searching for stuff, someone has made it their business to take your information.
Mercia’s view and mine incidentally, is that cookies should not be used to track your internet usage after leaving a specific site and websites should not be storing personal identifiable information. It’s a silent agitation – you don’t like it but they leave you no choice but to accept.
This is an agitation that others have found a business proposition in, in turn helping us in the process. Many are wondering how the industry will function in the future as third-party cookies are being challenged by strict tracking prevention features that are being introduced in some browsers. With the way things work, all other browsers will follow suit. Some however, in scrambling for a solution, are still trying out other not-so-above-board strategies.
Many ad tech companies, especially in the data management and shared ID space, have resorted to abuses such as link decoration (‘adding code to a URL in order to create cookie-less identifiers’), or migrating from first-party cookies to first-party LocalStorage (where data is stored closer to where it’s created, directly in the browser with no expiration date). This in an attempt to hide their tracking from easy detection.
With every punch, however, there is a quick counter by others and Apple’s latest Safari update to Intelligent Tracking Prevention ITP 2.3 is just the latest of big blows, making sure that these companies cannot leverage the storage powers they have gained.
Chrome: Open the Settings menu and use the search field to find “cookies.” This will return the Privacy settings. You can also find this section by scrolling to the bottom of the Settings menu, selecting ‘show advanced settings’, and locating the Privacy section. From the Privacy settings, select the Content settings option. By default, all first and third-party cookies are accepted — a setting which Chrome refers to as ‘allow local data to be set’ (which is recommended by the way).
Cookies are not implicitly a bad thing. On the contrary, they are necessary for the internet to work. It’s an easy way to keep track of where you were… making it easy for you to locate last visited sites and get to your shopping cart quicker equating to a better user journey and experience.
Even while industry consortiums are working hard to establish a common industry ID, they still face many headwinds and their potential as a long-term solution remains unclear. What is clear is that the ad tech arena as we know it today is in a fight to stay alive and there is a real opportunity for companies to come out with products and solutions suited for a privacy-first, non-cookie based future. Until then, it’s a test until the final bell.
So as you browse, shop, plan in preparation for your holiday time, know what you accept and take control.
Kagiso Musi is the group managing director of Meta Media South Africa, a new data-led media player in the country. She leads the Johannesburg and Cape Town offices with a list of blue-chip clients. The agency focuses on analysing and uncovering insights from the most granular forms of data and utilising that data to help clients win.
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