The Conversion Chronicles, resources for improving your online conversion rates

´The Cookie Monster´ ´ It´s a Hoax!

The Cookie Monster was an idea we had to help try and dispel some of the myths about Cookies and try to help show why they are used. What follows is a short explanation of cookies and a reference to more information for those of you who want to know more.

What is a cookie?

A cookie is a text file (simply a string of text) that gets entered into the memory of your browser software.

Why do sites use cookies?

There are many reasons why a site would use cookies to identify your browser software. Primarily they are used to help with on-line sales/services (like on Amazon Books or eBay), personalize how information is displayed to
you (like My Yahoo) or to gather demographic information (most web analytics tools).

Are Cookies Dangerous to My Computer?

NO. A cookie is a text file. It is not a program. It can´t do anything, it just sits there in your browsers memory. It cannot be used as a virus, and it cannot access your hard drive. Your browser software (for example Internet Explorer or Firefox - not a programmer) can save cookie values to your hard disk if it needs to, but that is the limit of the effect on your system.

Are cookies a privacy violation?

It is wise to consider what information you gather and share over the Internet. However every time you use a credit card or open a frequent buyer account in a supermarket you expose more information about yourself than you do by allowing a cookie to sit on your PC. A cookie simply identifies your browser to a website by assigning it a unique ID number. No personal information is gathered so it´s very un-intrusive.

Loyalty cards tell the supermarket what your name is, where you live, what food you´ve bought and which shops you´ve visited.

A cookie in comparison is like a tag which identifies to a website analytics program that you have visited. To the analytics program however you are simply a number, it can´t hack into your PC and find out where you live and what food you´ve bought!

What is all the fuss about then if they´re so harmless?

The Internet is a new technology and people are worried that the information they allow to be gathered about them is being exploited. Cookies do identify your browser software to a web server so the fear is that web site owners will use that information to your detriment.

More complete and accurate information is available at Cookie Central. A very good FAQ written by David Whalen is written here: