First off, what the heck is a cookie anyway? No, they’re not the chocolate chip-filled pieces of goodness your grandma made you. (Well, they actually are, but cookies are something else, too.)
Cookies are small pieces of data that are collected from information you put into your computer, phone, or tablet. Cookies are simple pairs of data recorded as (name, value). For example, a cookie of mine could be (user, maura). That’s just the type of the data that’s being collected, followed by the corresponding piece of data I put into my computer when a website asked for my name.
Cookies can also be collected from what you click on or search for. Not every website collects cookies, and some collect more than others.
Recently, a lot of people have been thinking that their phones, their Alexas, their Google Homes, and other smart devices have been listening to them when they don’t realize they are being listened to. For example, when you say to your significant other, “We need to buy cat food,” and then hours later, cat food shows up as an ad on the side of a website you’re visiting.
Yeah, that’s kinda creepy.
But think about it: haven’t you more than likely searched for something about cats at some point in recent history? Maybe you Googled “cat sitting service” before you went on vacation, or maybe you searched on Amazon for a cat scratching pole, or maybe you visited YouTube to watch video reviews of the best cat litters out there.
And now, the internet knows you have a cat.
So yeah, that’s a little creepy. But isn’t it also kind of cool?
Because now, the internet has the ability to show you products and services that you actually care about, things you can actually use. If you’ve ever been watching YouTube and an ad came up for something you didn’t want or didn’t have any interest in, you probably immediately looked for the “skip” button. But, if an ad came up about something you’ve been considering buying or that you were really interested in, odds are, you will probably sit through that ad, at least most of it.
This is how advertisers are bypassing the “cutting the cord” trend. Cutting the cord refers to the shift many of us have made in recent years away from traditional television and toward internet streaming. A growing number of customers watch programs online instead of on television, meaning advertisers now harness the power of the Internet to reach their customers.
If you don’t want your internet browser and websites to be able to access this information, you can disable cookies in your browser settings. However, some sites are really difficult or even impossible to navigate without cookies.
Moral of the story: don’t be scared of cookies! Don’t share sensitive information online, of course, but also don’t fear the power of the Internet. Instead, use it to your advantage and make the Internet work for you. And as always, if you want to know more (about cookies or anything else), just let us know.