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Managing EU Cookie Issues With Technology

November 19, 2015 | By Isabel Montesdeoca

  • EU cookie legislation has drastically changed the way companies operate Web sites
  • Cookie consent vendors have different options for how to display these consent forms
  • These solutions are customizable and can help educate users about which cookies to accept

Psst! Want a cookie?

I love Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. He and I are totally on the same wavelength about cookies. After all, what’s not to love about a cookie? But when it comes to Web cookies, it seems that there are some potential problems.

Web cookies offer Web site providers and third parties a way to capture and remember information about a visitor and his/her actions in between pages or visits. Despite the advent of cookie legislation in the EU requiring Web site providers to make visitors aware of their use of cookies, the majority of users remain largely unaware of the purposes that cookies serve and typically lump them all in the “bad” category.

In a survey released earlier this year by the EC, Eurobarometer, the majority of respondents expressed concern about their online activities being recorded and were uncomfortable with Internet companies using their online activity history to tailor advertisements – yet only 18 percent of respondents said that they fully read privacy statements. Clearly there is a disconnect here.

So, what’s the solution? The upcoming Global Data Privacy Regulation is designed to strengthen existing cookie legislation across the EU by requiring Web sites to obtain unambiguous consent from visitors for the use of cookies. This will require users to click a button or tick a box saying they accept the terms, rather than just dismiss a pop-up window offering them the opportunity to “read more” (something very few of us ever do).

That system may encourage more visitors to read the fine print before they consent, but it could also just lead to more systemic “consent fatigue” where people blindly agree to terms and conditions they haven’t read.

Ultimately what’s required is a cookie categorization process that will drive clarity and transparency on the topic of cookies. This means three things:

  • Grouping Web cookies into user-friendly (in other words, non-technical) categories that describe the purpose they serve on a Web site
  • Communicating cookie categories to visitors in a succinct and transparent way, not buried somewhere on the site
  • Providing quick and simple ways for visitors to register their consent for each category

Sites like Cookiepedia use five categories to catalog the different purposes cookies serve: Strictly Necessary, Performance Related, Functionality Related, Targeting and Unknown. Other sites, like Cookibot, use Necessary, Preferences, Statistics and Marketing as their categories.

When it comes to obtaining consent, cookie consent vendors offer a variety of mechanisms and formats for displaying cookie information to visitors. All of the well-known solutions on offer are customizable, and many now also include the ability to request user consent by sub-categories such as the ones above instead of displaying just one all-encompassing “I accept” statement.

When it comes to obtaining consent, cookie consent vendors offer a variety of mechanisms and formats for displaying cookie information to visitors. All of the well-known solutions on offer are customizable, and many now also include the ability to request user consent by sub-categories such as the ones above instead of displaying just one all-encompassing “I accept” statement.

Isabel Montesdeoca

Isabel Montesdeoca is Service Director, Demand Creation Strategies at SiriusDecisions. Isabel is an experienced European sales and marketing leader with an insatiable curiosity about how businesses can improve their b-to-b demand creation efforts. With more than 25 years of experience at companies both large and small in roles ranging from marketing and sales to product leadership, Isabel brings a unique perspective to the need for marketing, sales and product strategic alignment as an essential catalyst for business growth. Follow Isabel on Twitter @mimdeoca.