Google got in trouble recently when they were caught circumventing Safari’s third-party cookies blocking apparatus. This article isn’t about third-party cookies or what Google did. If you want to learn more about how third-party cookies and how they work, there are a couple of good article the first is Third-party cookies and another is E-Junkie How Does Tracking Work and what I use it for. This article is about how web sites are supported. If everyone starts blocking third-party cookies then sites that we go to daily may either disappear or change dramatically, because most sites depend on ads to support them. Sites like this one and Revision3 and Twit cost money to maintain. They have to pay for bandwidth, hosting cost, freelance writers, equipment and that’s just the beginning. Last month this Web site Geek News Central covered CES 2012 and post over 225 videos, I don’t know how much money it cost, but I am sure that cost a lot. My point is that nothing is free on the Internet and we have to agree on a way to pay for it.
There are a couple of options that various Web sites have tried to avoid ads, voluntary payments, subscriptions with special benefits, and paywalls. The first option voluntary payments can work in rare cases, but it takes a lot of time and effort. It also means constantly asking the reader for money, which can be a turn off. Subscriptions with benefit is where you get some content for free, if you pay you get more content. I am not sure if this would work on most Web sites and it also forces the Web sites to produce extra content. Although the first two do raise some money, they don’t raise nearly enough to be a viable option for many Web sites especially if they produce videos. Paywalls is another method that some websites like the New York Times and the Boston Globe use. Users hate paywall and it’s not clear how effective they are in raising money. This leads most Web sites to go with the ad-based method. In order for the ad base method to be successful they have to know how many people have visited the site which is where third-party cookies come in. What many people are upset about is that if you visit multiple sites that have the same third-party cookie on them, then that ad company can track you and start to build a profile about you. They use this to send ads that are relevant to you when you visit Web sites they services. Also because they know what ads you have already seen, they will try to show a different ad.
I personally don’t have a problem with third-party cookies, but I understand that other people have a different view of them. Should consumers have the right to block third-party cookies and was Google wrong to try to circumvent them, the answer to both questions is yes. However before we start bring out the fire and pitchfork against 3rd party cookies we need to understand they do serve a purpose and it’s not all bad.