Users Removing Cookies causes Trouble for Marketers

Thread Title:
Jupiter Media Press Release
Thread Description:

Jupiter have a press realease about a new study that finds that up to 39% of users may be deleting cookies on a monthly basis.

This of course affects all kinds of web operations from tracking, affiliate marketing and behavioural targetting - Jupiters Niki Skevak says that an entirely new way of capturing consumer behaviour will have to be invented.

I presume that cookie deletion comes from automated spyware removal and the like, as i can't imagine putting that figure down to manual deletion, but it's a worrying statistic for many marketers...

This, from the release:

The report found that as many as 39% of online users may be deleting cookies from their primary computer monthly, undermining the usefulness of cookie-based measurement and leaving many site operators flying blind. "Given the number of sites and applications that depend heavily on cookies for accuracy and functionality, the lack of this data represents significant risk for many companies," says Eric T. Peterson, Analyst at JupiterResearch. "Because personalization, tracking and targeting solutions require cookies to identify Web visitors over multiple sessions, the accuracy of these solutions has become highly suspect, especially over longer periods of time," added Peterson.

Privacy and security concerns on the part of online users are responsible for the cookie-deletion behavior that JupiterResearch has found. According to a recent consumer survey cited in the report, 52% of online users indicate a strong interest in stories and articles about Internet security and privacy, while 38% of online users believe that cookies are an invasion of their security and privacy online and 44% of online users believe that deleting or blocking cookies will protect them.


I hate the Cookie Monster

Thanks for that info Nick. Bad news is right!

Cookie tracking has been one of my biggest industry concerns for a long time and the problem just keeps getting worse. This is the 1st time I have done research but have not been able to find much info on other tracking solutions that are all that reliable either.

Most of our affiliate programs are on DirectTrack or Commission Junction so we are pretty reliant on their tracking mechanisms. We have been asking DT to come up with some kind of new backup tracking in case cookies are blocked or deleted.

IP tracking has it's own set of drawbacks. I know of a new affiliate network that claims to have cookieless tracking but I have not had time to contact them to find out more. What other tracking methods is anyone aware of that’s currently available besides cookie tracking?

known issue

I know of some other findings which confirm this. Not that exact number, but "a pretty large percentage".

There are lots of people deleting cookies - you can have all kinds of software set up to do it, and some browsers can also be set up to purge them all each time the browser is closed (or never to accept them).

Very regional

I believe that the numbers is very different from country to country. And it's not just cookies that course tracking problems. I also find more and more that filter out referrer information and other "personal" information in the http-request - often on a firewall level, so everyone behind it is "well protected". It sucks!

It's A Good Wakeup Call

I think this *could* be a good time for affiliates in the industry. With other options (ie. Google Adsense and potentially Yahoo/MSN publisher programs) becoming more attractive and potentially more profitable (true in some areas already), affiliates today are finding themselves in a stronger position than they've ever been. It's called "Real Options".

We've known for some time that cookie based tracking is flawed and throw in the adware/spyware/parasiteware affiliate burn problem that's been 'allowed' to run rampant, you find the affiliate in a position to say "I'm moving on".

Merchants/networks have to nip this in the bud, provide a method of real tracking sans the bugaboos (parasites, cookie deletion), and you may have a chance to compete with the CPC publishing networks now coming out strong.

Otherwise in the end - they'll find themselves paying a hefty penny to affiliates *per click*. The industry is going to shift with the affiliate, and the affiliate goes to where it's most profitable.

[quote]IP tracking has it's o

IP tracking has it's own set of drawbacks. I know of a new affiliate network that claims to have cookieless tracking

How could that work and be accurate? One IP may have many different people on it.

They will build a new scheme...

And we will build a way to delete it too.


Maybe has something to do with this. The most well known software for spyware removal (that I know of) and all cookies show up as spyware when you run it..

Other sorts of tracking

There are other sorts of tracking of individual users such as profiling. Basically you combine any possible identification (IP, screen size, browser version etc) and use it to create a unique profile. It's not perfect but it's in fact very good. The problem is, however, that such systems are not widely available and too exoensive to build for most sites. Also, it does take A LOT more CPU to handle such a solution instead of just using cookies. I have seen the effect on such systems in security systems for online chats - to keep out people you don't want in. It really works!

One new scheme is here - http

One new scheme is here -,2000061744,39183346,00.htm
(Quick summary: each PC's clock has a tony amount of deviation that is unique. packets are normally timestamped, allowing software to track a computer)
Now, tracking a PC is not quite the same as tracking a user, but cookies are PC-specific too.
(Hat Tip to James Meahan, at


if it's PC tracking you want to do i believe you could just as well record the mac adress (no it's not an apple product)

>> but cookies are PC-specific too

Not entirely so - ever examined cookies on a multi user machine w/logins?

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