Takealot just saved a cookie onto my browser. That’s it – a string of letters and numbers that form a unique ID to help a site remember me.
Before we go any further – what are (computer) Cookies?
explains it best – cookies are small files that are stored on your computer. This allows the website’s server to deliver a page tailored to you or is able to carry certain information from one website to the next; otherwise known as personalisation.
More than 2 decades ago, in 1994, Lou Montulli
was trying to solve a problem, how do you bring memory to the web. Back then, every time a new page was opened it was a completely different visit. Picture this – every time you added something to your Takealot cart and click away… it disappears. Or when you load a new page on Twitter or Facebook, you would have to log in again. Cookies solved that problem to the point where it’s kind of hard to even imagine logging onto your Facebook every-single-time.
Over the last 20 years, first-party cookies have allowed us to live more and more of our lives online.
The same year that Lou Montulli created cookies, the first digital banner ad appeared…
Today, our online existence runs on ads. Brands want to sell products or services by placing them in front of users that might be interested in them (targeting). Then you have platforms and publishers with audiences of people to show these ads to. Between a brand and you is ‘middleman’ with a single goal of making sure the ads are delivered to the right audience.
Google and Facebook are the best examples of companies who play both roles as they have huge audiences and even more information about how to target ads to you. But in order to do this, they have to collaborate and that’s where third-party cookies come in.
What are third-party cookies?
“Third-party cookies are those created by domains other than the one the user is visiting at the time, and are mainly used for tracking and online-advertising purposes. They also allow website owners to provide certain services, such as live chats.” Clearcode
In other words, on Takealot there are cookies made just for Facebook (which owns Instagram) and Google.
Now Takealot can go to those sites (Facebook & Google) and make custom audiences – for example, showing their ads to people who have visited the site in the last 30 days. That’s why that pair of shoes you didn’t buy are now on your Facebook feed.
In simple terms, third-parties like Google know every site you have visited using the third-party cookies. This is tracking. Right now, this map of your activity is mostly used to serve you personalised ads, which makes for a better experience for both you and brands.