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Sunday 27 December 2020

how do tracking cookies facebook and google pixel tag work


What are Cookies?

Cookies, (formally called “web cookies,” “browser cookies,” or “HTTP Cookies,”) are little pieces of data stored in your web browser. These pieces of data are sent from a website to your browser, and your browser then sends them back without altering them. Imagine it as an ongoing game of catch: a website and web browser throwing a piece of data back and forth. 

Cookies can be very beneficial. When a website remembers your username or keeps your shopping cart set for later, that’s due to an authentication cookie. Other types of cookies can be more invasive; a tracking cookie can store years of users’ session data on a web browser. This immensely helps companies market products and services as they can use the data to create a better user experience. However, users may be uncomfortable surrendering these large quantities of data.

If you’d like to remove tracking cookie data from your browser, go into your browser options and click to clear all cookies. A quick Google search will tell you how to do it based on your browser of choice.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was passed in 2016 by the European Union to help protect online privacy. Businesses that have website users in the EU must announce to their local customers when they are using cookies to collect data, and give them an opportunity to leave the site if they don’t want their information to be shared. Among other things, this act gives users the right to contact a company and ask that any information they may have on them be permanently deleted. (Think email, address, phone number, shopping habits, etc.)

What is a Snippet?

Generally speaking, a code snippet is small-ish portion of reusable source code, machine code, or text. Snippets are used to help programmers avoid typing long, repetitive code. (Think of it as an opportunity to “work smarter not harder.”) Many behavior-based applications such as Google Analytics, Lucky Orange, FOMO, Facebook, and Linkedin use customized snippets to track relevant data. For example, the Google Analytics snippet is a small piece of JavaScript code that you paste into your webpages. It activates Google Analytics tracking when someone is on that page. We often use Google Tag Manager to implement these snippets. Learn about other basic Google Tools.

What is a Tag?

Tags are small snippets of code that label and describe certain elements on the page and its attributes. Tags include the meta title and description that tell search engines the main focus of a page, the copyright tag that displays when the website was made, and the robots tag that tells search engines whether to add certain URLs to their index. Optimizing certain meta tags is an important aspect of SEO, as it directs search engines to the most relevant information available.

What is Facebook Pixel?

A pixel is a snippet of code that’s placed on a website by a third party ad tool to track user behavior. For example, when a user clicks on a Facebook ad, the Facebook Pixel tracks whether the user buys products from the website. Ad servers, (in this case Facebook), use pixels because they cannot communicate with the browser directly through other websites using cookies. Without the pixel, the website can’t accredit which third party ad tool a sale came from, and the ad tool can’t track which ads lead to the most sales.

Facebook Pixel helps companies market their products or services to users solely on Facebook (and Facebook-owned Instagram). When a company has gathered enough user data, it can use the sales trends to optimize ads for conversions, create look-a-like audiences based on current user behavior, and remarket ads based on specific actions taken on a website. For example, if you’ve ever looked online for a new jacket, logged onto Facebook, and immediately seen an ad for that exact jacket, you can thank the Facebook Pixel. 

  1. You pick up a tracking cookie on your favorite blog or shopping site. That cookie contains a unique ID that doesn’t identify you personally, but does identify your web browser.
  2. The owner of the shopping site signs up and pays for an advertising platform like Google.
  3. Google’s ads aren’t static; when you visit other websites that use Google ads to make money, the website sees the cookie and sends it to Google through the ad. Google sees the unique ID stored in the cookie and recognizes that it came from your favorite shopping site.
  4. Google then shows an ad for the shopping site accordingly.

Likewise, other advertisers on Google’s ad network can use that cookie, too, if your advertising profile meets their criteria of the target audience. It doesn’t only benefit the site where you picked up the cookie.

First-Party vs. Third-Party Cookies

Some cookies may pack more of a threat than others depending on where they come from.

First-party cookies are directly created by the website you are using. These are generally safer, as long as you are browsing reputable websites or ones that have not been compromised.

Third-party cookies are more troubling. They are generated by websites that are different from the web pages users are currently surfing, usually because they're linked to ads on that page.

Visiting a site with 10 ads may generate 10 cookies, even if users never click on those ads.

Third-party cookies let advertisers or analytics companies track an individual's browsing history across the web on any sites that contain their ads.

Consequently, the advertiser could determine that a user first searched for running apparel at a specific outdoor store before checking a particular sporting goods site and then a certain online sportswear boutique.

Zombie cookies are from a third-party and permanently installed on users' computers, even when they opt not to install cookies. They also reappear after they've been deleted. When zombie cookies first appeared, they were created from data stored in the Adobe Flash storage bin. They are sometimes called “flash cookies” and are extremely difficult to remove.

Like other third-party cookies, zombie cookies can be used by web analytics companies to track unique individuals' browsing histories. Websites may also use zombies to ban specific users


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