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Editor's Corner: Not Everyone Loves Cookies

Furniture World Magazine


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I recently stumbled upon a website that features lists of things that “changed the world.” Included are books that changed the world, quotes that changed the world and women who changed the world. Also, 10 events that changed the world such as World War I, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the 1929 stock market crash, and yes, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Time will tell if COVID will remain on their top-10 list, but one thing is for sure. This list site dropped a cookie on my computer!

It might have been a first-party cookie, but more likely it was the third-party variety. First-party cookies facilitate website functions such as navigation, remembering user preferences or recalling shopping cart activity on subsequent visits to a merchant site.

It’s third-party cookies, sometimes called tracking cookies, that are controversial. These little files are used by companies like Facebook to identify and track web browsing behaviors. Marketers use this data to serve highly targeted ads.

Although privacy groups and the European Union are working to control third-party cookies, Facebook and online advertising firms say that they can benefit consumers. If a person is searching for information about quality sleep, isn’t it better for them to see ads for mattresses instead of hair removal services?

Now, Apple (Safari browser) has declared war on third-party cookies and the apps that use them. Consumers will need to be prompted to opt in. Foxfire blocks them by default and Google (Chrome) is taking a more nuanced approach.

There’s a war of words going on between Apple’s Tim Cook and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. The conflict has all the makings for a riveting Netflix or HBO mini-series.

There are, of course, implications for furniture retailers. The “Ad Targeting” article in this Furniture World edition quotes Eric Grindley of Esquire Advertising who warns that “The ecommerce industry is about to be rocked like it’s never been rocked before.” Grindley believes that the demise of third-party cookies will actually be a very good thing for brick and mortar furniture retailers who have better tools at their disposal to reach out to prospective customers.

Perhaps when future “top-10 events that changed the world” lists are written, third-party cookies will take up two spots; one for when support for the first cookie was integrated into Internet Explorer in 1995 — and the second when Apple decided to withdraw its unconditional support.

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Russell Bienenstock is Editor-in-Chief of Furniture World Magazine, founded 1870. Comments can be directed to him at editor@furninfo.com.