Can you write an article about cookies,” my boss ordered me over the Monday morning coffee. I looked at him desperately and replied, “I am a copywriter. I don’t understand anything about cookies.” To which he said, “That’s why you are so perfect for the job. Nobody understands cookies. If you, as a layman, research it, you may succeed in making this matter understandable.”
He then sipped his coffee again, nodded affirmatively (not at me but at himself), and returned to his office with a satisfied expression.
And I? I murmured to the coffee machine, “But I really don’t know anything about cookies.”
What are cookies? (If you ask me)
What do I already know about this? These are the things that come to mind:
- Cookies are invisible files that are installed on your computer when you visit a website.
- These files ensure that your experience on the site is better. For example, your details are already entered in a contact form, and you see advertisements for products you like.
- Cookies also ensure that the website owner can earn more money from you. Not only because the advertisements, as mentioned earlier, are more targeted, but also because it can bombard you with re-marketing at later times. (Not familiar with the term re-marketing? Suppose you visit the website loreleiweb.com. Purely hypothetical, huh. For another week, ads from loreleiweb.com will appear on numerous unrelated sites. That is re-marketing.)
- Quite a few European laws surround cookies.
Aah, not bad.
Apparently, I know something about it. However, I am sure my more tech-savvy colleagues can add depth to the topic—time to ask around.
What are cookies? (If you ask a whizzkid)
First of all, I went to my colleague Hana, a programmer with a brain that thinks in binary numbers. This is her answer to the question of what a cookie is according to her:
“Cookies are the storage of or access to information in the peripheral equipment of a user via an electronic communication network.
“Hana, you sound like a law book,” I said. As if I were the greatest fool in the world, she replied, “That’s the law book’s text.”
I asked her what is meant by ‘peripherals’. I was under the impression that cookies only apply to computers. Is there more? She said with a sigh:
Ah. So so.
I thanked Hana for the explanation and turned to my colleague Raf, a front-end developer. Maybe he talks more like a, um … human.
This is what Raf says:
What is funny is that cookies do not work optimally on mobile devices. Apps on smartphones technically work differently from web browsers. The Mobile advertising ID is the most commonly used alternative on GSM. However, the purpose is the same as with traditional cookies. That is why they are placed under the general heading of cookies.
My response: “Funny indeed.” Before continuing with his work that I don’t understand, Raf said: “I’ll email you a list of all types of cookies. Maybe that will benefit you.”
A list of all types? Chocolate chip, macaron, shortbread, candies?
What types of cookies are there?
It may not need to be said, but Raf’s list was a geek’s wet dream. In other words: I didn’t understand anything about it.
But my mission has settled in my head: I want to understand cookies. With a lot of research, I have deciphered the list. I am proud to present the result to you.
- Necessary cookies
This is essential for the proper functioning of the website. This category only includes cookies that guarantee essential functions and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information. That’s nice.
- Analytical cookies
Analytical cookies ensure that the website owner’s visit to the website is made transparent by analyzing visitors’ behavior and their origin. They are used to measure and optimize the performance of a website. The site owner can find out which information visitors find useful or unnecessary.
Analytical cookies, for example, keep track of how often a website is visited or how often a blog article is read. They can also keep track of which region the website visitors mainly come from and whether the website’s mobile version is more popular than the desktop version.
- Functional cookies
Functional cookies ensure an optimal user experience of the website. They are used, among other things, for the automated filling of forms and for the proper functioning of the chat function and the shopping cart. They remember that you are logged in as a user or that you have placed items in the shopping cart. With a multilingual website, the language preference or country preference of the visitor can be remembered.
- Tracking Cookies
Tracking cookies create a profile of the website visitor. For example, a modified version of the website can be displayed. These cookies follow the visitor’s surfing behavior so that he can receive personalized offers or advertisements even while surfing other websites. For example, he may see a previously viewed webshop item (or catalog bride) reappear on other websites.
Some of these cookies are placed by the website you are visiting, while others are placed by external parties (advertisers, news feeds, plugins). In the first case, we talk about first-party cookies, in the second about third-party cookies.
Incidentally, I was wrong with my assumption that cookies are always small files installed on the user’s computer. It was indeed twenty years ago, but the term ‘cookie’ has now been broadened. The law speaks of:
… Store or access information in a user’s peripheral equipment via an electronic communications network.
Interesting fact: there are even cookies that ensure that you can consent to the use or not of cookies.
Should we be afraid of cookies?
It depends on who you ask. On the internet, I meet loads of anxious people who say that cookies violate our privacy. That they belong in a cookie box, not on a computer. But is this fear justified?
I admit: if you allow cookies that aim to store your personal preferences, you can indeed speak of an invasion of privacy. You may indeed reason: it is no one’s business that I prefer Nike sneakers, flying holidays to Tunisia and Eastern European women called Natascha and Tatiana.
If it is indeed a problem for you that a website gathers this information, then that is completely OK. Simply do not permit to place such cookies in the cookie preferences. However, I also know people (I’m thinking of my lovely girlfriend) who love it when a website shows ads with products they actually like.
Do I personally see cookies as an invasion of my privacy? No. But I also do not always agree with all cookies. It depends on how much I feel like being bombarded with advertisements related to the website I just visited for the rest of the week. Also, consider the following:
Cookies can only be read by the website that places the cookie.
A cookie from Nike, for example, cannot also be used by five hundred other sports brands. I find that reassuring.
As a company, how do you ensure that you are safe?
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned a fine that was handed out to a Belgian site for not having their cookie statement in order. The site has had to pay $15,000. (Ironically, this site provides legal advice.)
However, as a website owner, you don’t want to pay a fine, so you need to make sure your site is in order. You do this as follows.
Not every website uses them, so not every site is required to list its cookies.
Low budget tip: you can, of course, also purchase this plugin yourself and run the scan personally.
- Ask explicitly for permission.
I consciously say explicit permission, because (be careful!) Implicit permission is not enough. Implicit consent means that you assume that the user automatically consents to use the site. The user should have the opportunity to click on an ‘OK’ button or ‘Agree’ button. The user must also have the option to give permission per cookie type.
This cookie notice is an example of what not to do :
This cookie notice is an example of how to do it :
Do you see the difference?
- What are cookies, what types are there, and what are they for? Briefly explain what cookies are and what they mean for the site visitor. Then tell us which cookie types there are and what the benefits are for the user. Start by clarifying the distinction between first-party cookies and third-party cookies. Then split these into necessary, analytical, functional, and tracking cookies. You know, that list we discussed earlier.
- Which cookies do you use, what purpose do they have, and how long are they stored? We are not talking about cookie categories now, but a summary of all the individual cookies that your site may place on the visitor’s device.
- Please explain how the user can delete his cookies. This can be done, for example, by consulting the help function of your browser.
- Indicate when your policy was last changed. If you change your policy, you must also request permission from all visitors again.
- Originally, cookies are small files that are stored on the device of the person who visits a website or webshop. Still, the term now encompasses all forms of ‘storing or gaining access to information in a user’s peripheral equipment via an electronic communication network’.
- They ensure that the site provides better user experience, and they enable the site owner to run a more efficient (and thus more commercially stronger) site.
My assignment has been completed: I have made cookies transparent. Or yes, that’s my hope.
Is this all there is to say about cookies? No. During my search, I came across pages of other interesting (and relevant) information. However, a person has to make choices in life, and I did.
Now I’m going to the store to buy a box of cookies. I got hungry.
The future of blockchain in affiliate marketing technology business, what does it hold for us?
In recent years, a considerable increase has been evident in the affiliate marketing industry. Money is falling from the skies in this business, and people are constantly working on innovation and new creative ways to improve affiliate marketing channels.
One of the innovations that people expect a lot of profit from is the blockchain technology.
When you think of blockchain, you may immediately think of cryptocurrencies, but you can now extend this unique technology.
Therefore, it is expected that affiliate marketing and blockchain technology will become closely intertwined in the (very near) future.
In this article, you will find more information about the current state of affairs, the possible future of blockchain in the affiliate marketing business, and the software that can be used for it.
Blockchain technology in the affiliate marketing industry is currently in its infancy, but that is likely to change soon.
The current state of affairs; blockchain in affiliate marketing
The affiliate marketing industry is growing by a few percent annually. Check out this article on affiliate marketing stats. This applies to all parts of the world, not just the US market.
As a result of this growth, more and more companies are becoming involved in affiliate marketing (directly or indirectly), while more and more marketers are interested in this form of online marketing.
However, there is a lot of criticism about the affiliate marketing industry.
This criticism is mainly related to the lack of transparency. It is ‘the expectation’ that you trust the links of the advertisers; if these links don’t work, you don’t earn anything as an affiliate marketer.
Besides, it is relatively easy to scam in this industry. Partly because of this criticism, there is an increasing demand for a fairer and more transparent process. A process, in which there is no more room for mistakes or deceitful techniques.
At the time of writing (2020), blockchain technology is slowly entering our industry. However, this is not moving too fast, as there is the inevitable resistance.
After all, many people earn (a lot of) money with affiliate marketing; a shift in technology can possibly change this.
Since we don’t have a crystal ball and cannot foresee for sure what’s ahead of us, it is exciting to look at the future of affiliate marketing and guess how blockchain technology will shape it.
Nowadays, with the help of certain software, including affiliate marketing software, blockchain technology can already be partly used by affiliate marketers.
How exactly? Let’s dive in.
Blockchain technology software
It is fascinating to look at the connection between technology, affiliate marketing, and cryptocurrencies in the current market. For example, there are several marketing platforms for which companies and affiliate marketers can sign up. These platforms take over the functions of the affiliate networks and offer several models.
To explain this better, let’s take Scaleo platform is an example. This is an affiliate software, a SaaS performance marketing platform for creating networks and managing, tracking & optimizing online advertising campaigns.
It is striking that Scaleo also offers a built-in tracker; thanks to this tracker, it is possible for advertisers to see how well the campaigns are performing.
Such a platform offers many advantages for both parties. There is much more transparency for both companies and affiliate marketers. Thanks to blockchain technology, it is also possible to save costs, work more efficiently, and go through life completely anonymously. After all, that too is one of the most important features and advantages of blockchain technology.
Scaleo currently is not using blockchain technology, but it may change in the future. However, some affiliate marketing platforms focus purely on cryptocurrencies; Scaleo offers a wide range of benefits for anyone. For example, you can integrate it with Shopify, WooCommerce, and other platforms.
If visitors to your affiliate website buy cryptocurrencies via that platform, you will receive a certain commission for that. As soon as you have earned a commission, you can have it paid out immediately. That, too, can be called a relatively unique feature.
With the above examples, the problem was also directly touched upon.
There is still too little certainty, there is still no clear line, and there is also insufficient development in the industry.
The concept of the future: blockchain in affiliate marketing
Earlier in this article, you could read that blockchain technology entails the necessary resistance. Which is logical, as no one knows what this technology will offer us. Partly because of this uncertainty, affiliate platforms and companies are not yet too keen to actually use blockchain technology now.
At the same time, it is interesting to see that various affiliate networks are already implementing changes.
According to various sources, affiliate network can play a decisive role. TradeDoubler wants to use the blockchain technology for the following:
- Save data
- Make transaction data (more) accessible
- Make the transactions a lot more transparent
- Prevent fraud
- Implement new functionalities more easily
The benefits of blockchain technology in affiliate marketing
There are no discussions about the various advantages of blockchain technology. Many people certainly see the value of this technology, in combination with the cryptocurrencies, but there is nevertheless the necessary friction. Friction because the old monetary system should change, while so many people make a lot of money and want to stop.
It is only forgotten that many people fraudulently earn money and actually abuse the banks’ power, for example.
This is actually also the case in the world of affiliate marketing.
Some parties have too much power, while many other parties depend on them.
In fact, blockchain technology offers everything one needs to combat this.
This affiliate platform gives some reasons why people are so eager to get started with blockchain technology on its own website. These benefits are summarized below:
- Affiliate platforms expect to be able to pay out much faster with the new technology.
- Affiliate platforms expect to be better able to comply with the GPDR; after all, the new technology offers more options for protecting users’ data.
- Affiliate platforms expect to be able to bypass the adblockers, which should increase revenues.
- Affiliate platforms expect to be able to exercise greater control over publishers; after all, the technology provides all kinds of relevant information, which Tradedoubler can then react to.
- Affiliate software platforms expect a direct connection between advertisers and publishers to emerge; it is expected that this will increase the conversion rate (significantly).
- Affiliate systems expects much better attribution; thanks to the technology, it is possible to measure all clicks’ conversion, and it is no longer possible to ‘falsify’ the attribution.
- Scaleo expects a lot less fraud; this makes the entire affiliate marketing industry a lot fairer.
All in all, this affiliate marketing platform expects quite a lot from blockchain technology. Is technology going to deliver on all of this? That is the question currently in the affiliate marketing industry.
The expectations; blockchain in affiliate marketing
It is absolutely clear; blockchain technology will bring about the necessary changes. These changes will make the entire affiliate marketing industry a lot more transparent, fairer, and more enjoyable.
Both advertisers and publishers will benefit from this.
For you, as a publisher, it is important to keep a close eye on all development. This allows you to respond to developments so that you can take a head start on your competition quickly. It is expected that within x number of years, the blockchain technology will be applied on a large scale by several European affiliate platforms.
Should that be the case, the entire affiliate marketing industry is going to change, but, no one knows what the future will bring.