Don’t Eat That Cookie

If Joanna Gaines makes it, I probably need it. 

That is at least the lesson that advertisers, marketers, and data miners have learned from my internet shopping habits over the past few years thanks to cookies, and I’m not talking about Chips Ahoy. 

What I am referring to are the little windows that you have invariably seen pop up on almost every website you have visited in the past 18 months. Many of them want to know if you accept cookies or want to manage them. Some will let you opt-out while others won’t. That includes, ironically, the Nabisco website for Chips Ahoy cookies. You get cookies whether you want them or not. 

So, what kind of cookie are we talking about? A cookie represents a small piece of code in your browser/cache that shows where you have been online. It collects data on users including information such as gender, age, race, interests, jobs, and hometowns. 

Data collectors then cultivate that information and sell it to marketers and advertisers, who then use it to tailor messages to you that it believes you want to know more about. It’s an advanced science and one that can help you. 

For example, at STORY, we have helped clients target potential workers using data that finds people who are looking for a new job or a new employee. It also helps create a better shopping experience by allowing businesses to show you products you may need at better prices. Now, it also can be a little irritating at times. There are some companies that will target ads to your television based on what you are scrolling on your phone while watching.  Another example of this is when that rush repair job for a leaking roof becomes three months of annoying new roof ads that only remind you of the headaches and stress from the rain pouring through your ceiling. 

Truthfully, cookies have been on your browser since the days of dial-up. Regulation changes in the past few years now require that companies let you know they are tracking your usage. If you read many of their privacy policy documents, they will tell you they are tracking and selling your information. 

As for us, if there was an app that tracked our movements but allowed us to never grab a raisin cookie when we wanted a chocolate chip, we would download it