Online: Tools and Resources

  • by January 29, 2003
InternetUniversity: Keep your hands off my cookies
by Mark Kecko

Cookies have been a hot-button issue since the beginning of Internet time, but few advertisers — and even fewer consumers — really know how they work. What it really comes down to is what techies refer to as Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P), an Internet standard that gives users more control over the personal information that’s divulged to websites during their visits.

Think of it as an electronic privacy policy. Websites that conform to P3P issue these electronic policies via an XML document to users with P3P-enabled browsers. With a Generation 6 browser, such as Internet Explorer 6, you’ll be able to take full advantage of P3P.

P3P-enabled sites also make use of Compact Policies (CPs), which are transferred along with web pages and relay information about cookies to the browser. CPs are smaller than full P3P policies and are also more efficiently deciphered by browsers. In an ideal world, where all websites are P3P-enabled, a surfer could configure his browser privacy settings and be confident that his name, address, and favorite brand of underwear aren’t being dragged around the Web.

If said person were to come across a site that somehow conflicted with his privacy settings, a dialog box would pop up and alert him as to why the conflict occurred.

Ad-serving companies and their clients should be aware of how these P3P browsers will affect them. For instance, IE6 will automatically block third-party cookies that do not have a CP or have an “unsatisfactory” CP. Since most users don’t know how to edit their privacy settings, or just neglect to do so, a third-party ad server that doesn’t use P3P or CPs could be seriously miscalculating its impressions.

The good news is that cookies served from most of the big ad servers are already P3P compliant. 24/7 Real Media does not collect personal info with its ad tracking cookies, and DoubleClick has had a P3P policy in place since before IE6 was even released.

Mark Kecko is MediaPost’s Technology Director.

by Amy Corr

Analyzing which parts of your website generate the most sales can be a daunting task. Static graphs and charts about which campaigns were most successful don’t give you a way to look at your website through the eyes of your consumers.

This month’s ClickPick does just that. ClickTracks is a website traffic analysis tool that interactively details which areas of your website are the most and least popular. Bar charts showing percentages pop up on your screen and indicate how long a visitor stays at a specific area of your site, where they click, where they leave your site, and which parts of your site lead to the most sales. Information such as how a consumer “found” a website (through Yahoo!, Google, etc.), comparisons of generated leads by entry point, and sales revenue generated by these leads is also available. Users can additionally view consumer site behavior by day, week, and month.

John Marshall, CEO of ClickTracks, says the product works well for those looking to improve their website and online campaigns. Pricing for this downloadable product is $495, and updates are available every few months at a discounted upgrade price.

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