Amar Krishna Jha
Da Miracle
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Why you should always clear browser cookies - Digtal marketing & Growth hacking Consultant, Kolkata, India

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Why you should always clear browser cookies

In this post you will learn “Why you should always clear browser cookies” before shopping/booking online as prices go up on sites (especially travel sites) if you are a return user (visit multiple times).

Also

  • How apple users are steered towards costlier products online. Apple is #iLoot (term coined by friend @Vibhuism)
  • What can one do to secure there digital tracking on multiple sites one visits
  • How can one limit the information shared on Internet by simple tricks & tools
  •  Manage your social media login/sharing cookies,
  • Manage and move all your stored data in our out of all Google products. ( A great initiative by Google)

…Shocked or find this interesting? Read on…Supported article links are provided In the middle of the post

We all spend lot of time online browsing Internet for various reasons like searching information, reading articles, sharing on social media, interacting on social media, multi media sites, emails, shopping… to name a few. As per a recent study Americans spend every 16mins/hr online. Here’s an infographic on how people spend their time online if you are interested.

Now this increase of Digital media consumption is a boon for Digital marketers like me who use this medium to target customers online. But, sadly there are some marketers who use this technology in I don’t know if I can use the word unethical but in a way that consumers don’t always get the best deal but also raises SERIOUS concerns about the privacy and storing of personal data and all it requires is a minor manipulation.

Let me be little specific now

You are checking the price of a hotel room for your travel, you see the price to be X but don’t book it immediately thinking you will do a thorough check before taking the bite. You visit the site again in a day or two or after some time and what you see is the same hotel room price is now X+Y. Right, prices are manipulated.

And mind you whether you have noticed this or not it’s a widely practiced strategy by Digital marketers across the globe and there are strong evidences for this.  This happens mainly in cases where usually pricing is dependent on lot of factors contributing to “Dynamic Pricing”. For example, you know the rates of a hotel room or for that matter flight tickets etc are quite high at peak times and urgency of service required. This in management terminology is called Yield management. Not that this only happens offline like many sports franchisees change (upward or downward) the ticket prices on a daily basis based on changing factors like team performance, weather, ticket demand etc

Yet yield management is one thing, provided it’s implemented fairly to all customers. But when different customers are charged separate rates for the same products at the same time it’s price discrimination ( exceptions childrens, Sr citizens, defence personanels ) To think of it even “ladies’ nights” have come under fire as a form of discrimination.

Supportive articles

Now the big question how it’s all possible and done?  Welcome to the world of Cookies…Even if you are a normal user of Google analytic’s for your site/blog/landing pages you must have seen things like “New Visitor & Returning visitor”. Also under  technology you can see % of visitors by browsers (browser targeting for MAC users) . Then of-course  there’s mobile and so on …all these reports are about your site visit are collected via cookies.

For people who are not from Digital media or have no clue about what Google analytic’s is you must have at some point of time ( I assume regularly ) deleted cookies from your browsers.

I won’t get into technical definitions of cookies and their types etc or even how to delete cookies from your browsers as Google will throw in more number of searches on the same than total number of hours I have spent on this planet (including my previous incarnations) but these guides are pretty useful for everything you want to know or do with cookies http://www.aboutcookies.org  http://www.allaboutcookies.org

Now having exposed you to the clever world of digital marketing which unlike is not based on faith factor for measuring the returns as in other traditional media I am sure you must have guessed why you are chased with same ads everywhere you visit (ReTargetting) , including social media sites you use.

Do you know every time you click on ‘facebook like’ on an article, this data about your visit to the site is sent to facebook so that they can give you custom & targeted ads on your sign-in . Same is with twitter but wait there’s good news…if you want to opt out of these trackings ( As per these companies, it helps them serve you with better ads, now since there’s no way you can opt out of ads the call is yours, believe them and opt for better ads or opt out) you can do so by reading further. I have shared few tips & tricks with tools to help you do so but before that

TIPS FOR ONLINE SHOPPERS/ BOOKERS : Some Do’s and Dont’s

  • When it comes to travel, don’t be an impulsive shopper. More than ever, it’s critical that you shop around, and view fares on more than one site. And if you find a price on a third-party travel site, make sure you visit that airline’s own branded site as well, to see if there’s a lower fare.
  • When shopping online, use more than one browser (or more than one computer) if possible.
  • Beware of sites that state your personal information will be “held” or “shared” or “sold.” Do spend time reading privacy policies of your trusted or commonly used sites.
  • NEVER book travel through a site that does not have a posted privacy policy or offers non-working links.
  • When shopping for anything online always use incognito mode in chrome,  InPrivate in IE and so on…
  • In Chrome and Firefox, Ctrl+F5 or Shift+F5 will refresh the page and ignore the cached settings. Works great for fixing a site that won’t load or resetting the prices of e-commerce sites.

Now before I further talk about Why you should always clear browser cookies here’s some exercise for you to understand cookies better , disable all cookies (including 3rd party cookies) and try signing into your Gmail/ Facebook/ Twitter (it doesn’t even tell you like Gmail or Facebook that you need to enable cookies, so if you disable cookies on someone’s workstation he will for some time have no clue why he can’t log in to twitter unless ofcourse you notice a cross bar on top right side of your browser asking you to allow cookies for twitter only and cookie settings link)

Now, before you have a wrong opinion let me also tell you Cookies themselves typically aren’t as evil as most stories (and some anti-spyware tools) might have you believe.

A cookie is nothing more than some information a website can save on your computer and when you visit the same site again your browser provides the information stored (of your previous visits) to the site.

Seriously. That’s it. That’s a cookie. If managed properly it helps you surf faster, saves time from entering the same data again and again.

Still, its a good practice for websites to clarify their stand on cookie policy. In the European Union, websites are legally required to inform users if a tracking cookie is placed on their computer. Wi-Fi and smart phones tracking are yet to be regulated though.

Now that we know how can cookies be manipulated let’s look at the solutions we have at hand

Controlling Your Privacy

There are two simple ways in which you can opt-out from tracking by this website.

  • You can control how your browser accepts cookies. Please check out this wonderful article: How to control cookies. It has simple instructions for Windows and Mac computers and Chrome, IE, Firefox, Opera and Safari browsers. You can now choose to accept first party or third party cookies (or neither).
  • You can turn off JavaScript in your browser. A simple Google search should help you find out how to do it for your browser.

Other Methods to Opt Out of Tracking:

Google Analytic’s:

If you want to opt out of being tracked using Google Analytic’s on any website go to Google Analytic’s Opt-out Browser Add-on and install the add-on in your browser.

General Behavioral Advertising:

If you want to opt out of  any behavioral advertising or behavioral targeting on any site you browse then you can do so here: Opt Out of Behavioral Advertising.

Note : AboutAds uses third party cookies to opt out. Not very assured, Keep a tab for few days by visiting regularly.

Social Sharing and login

Facebook

Like this site that uses Login/Like buttons, sites that use similar( and there are billions now I guess) buttons send your visit data back to Facebook.

You have three options to opt out of being tracked by Facebook.

If you use Google’s Chrome browser then use: Facebook Disconnect

If you use other browsers here’s an alternative: Facebook Blocker

In your browser cookies settings set facebook.com set behavior as ‘clear on exit’. This is for chrome as I don’t use any other browser much but there should be an option for exceptions in other browsers.

Twitter 

This blog uses tweet button and the same is used by twitter to help you show tailored ads. Here’s Twitter blog link published on 3rd July 2013. If you want to opt out it’s fairly simple…

Sign in to Twitter. Go to settings>>Account>> Personalization and opt ‘for do not track’

You can also use tools like DisconnectGhosteryPriv3 (Firefox extension)Abine

Google Privacy:

Internet is Google, well almost and so no list of privacy links would be complete without the Google Privacy Manager. The site has most comprehensive links to privacy options, links to control your privacy etc.

Also checkout your Google Dashboard to see everything Google knows about you. You can view, edit or opt out of Google’s interest based ads by going to the Ads Preferences Manager.

Finally escape Google and its services AND take your data with you, check out the Data Liberation Front. ( It’s an initiative by Google to help people manage and move their data in and out of all Google products).

Here’s a tool to analyse your browser cookies analysis GRC Web Browser Cookie Forensics

Hope this helps a few of you.

For advance readers who want to understand how Google Analytic’s uses cookies to track and measure user interaction on websites get in touch with me & I shall send across the required guide.

If you have any queries or would like to contribute to this article leave a comment below. E-mail id submitted is not sent to analytic’s vendor or third party ;) . Also, share the article either by forwarding the link or on social media to help others save some money by deleting cookies and help them secure/control their online data if they want. For privacy policies of this site visitDisclaimer page

And just in case you want to have an idea where is Digital Marketing heading  read this (interesting read – trash bins on the road tracking people’s smartphones ) 

Update – 14/07/2013 – UK bars trash cans to track and ICO (Information Commissioner) will examine the issue.

An entrepreneur who treks or goes biking on Himalayas. A technocrat who coins taglines. A foodie who plays the harmonica. A famous bathroom singer who buys all the latest publications. A compulsive movie goer who creates digital strategies. Modern Marketing consultant helping businesses & brands to believe in GoD (Going Digital)

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