Are cookies a good thing? And should you accept them as a consumer?

Should you accept or decline cookies when you visit a website? And why does it matter to you? Find out how these questions affect you as a consumer.

Joshua Wilson, Crimtan’s Commercial Director, JAPAC, recently explained why it’s time for consumers to take control of their personal data at Wahl+Case‘s M/AD Culture podcast episode on consumer privacy.

The podcast series is hosted by Wahl+Case Marketing Specialist Bryan Rios and Dentsu Director of Analytics and Innovative Solutions Joshua Grant.

To help answer these questions, in this article, Josh summarises his key takeaways from the podcast, including:

Why privacy is such a hot topic
The difference between first and third party cookies
Why cookies can be a good thing – and how advertisers can do better
How much an ad-free world would cost us
Whether you should accept cookies or not
How we protect user privacy with our unique solution for a cookie-less world

Three reasons why privacy is such a hot topic right now

There are three main driving forces behind why privacy is a hot topic today. The first reason is legislation. The wild west of consumer data collection is now over.

‘Assumed consent’ is a thing of the past and now there are new legislation and policies in play that require ‘explicit consent’ to collect consumer data. Following GDPR in the EU and CCPA in the States, other countries especially in the Asia Pacific region are starting to catch up and enforce stricter policies.

Secondly, is the demands from consumers. With the widely publicised Facebook senate hearing where Mr. Zuckerburg was grilled over the use of user data and Apple’s new anti tracking commercials, consumers are starting to become more savvy about what’s happening on the internet.

And thirdly is that tech companies are finally coming to the table and trying to figure out how to work with legislation to accommodate these trends and changes.

Unfortunately, the marketing community hasn’t done a good enough job explaining why data collection is used, and the benefits that come with it.

Traditional media allows advertisers to reach a mass audience, but it does not enable them to customise or sophistically personalise the message that is shown to consumers. Digital advertising comes with those added benefits with the use of data. This helps advertisers to be more informed and more efficient with advertising spend.

With data, advertisers can now speak to their core target audience and drive the most relevant messaging, creating a seamless online experience. And not only does this help brands spend their budget more wisely, but it ensures that consumers are shown ads for products and services they are interested in and need.
What’s the difference between first-party and third-party cookies?

There are two main types of cookies: first party cookies and third party cookies. First party cookies sit on one single publisher (domain) site, and remember data such as login details, credit card details, and cart information. This is beneficial to consumers because you don’t have to remember any information or re-login every time you land on the same site.

Third party cookies track us across multiple domains – usually without our knowledge. This is where some of the fear around cookies comes from – not knowing what kind of information about you is being gathered and stored.

All the legislation currently in place, including Apple’s recent announcement of iOS 14 and Google’s announcement are aimed at eliminating third-party cookies.
First-party cookies:

What is it? A cookie that is relevant to a specific domain (e.g. remembering a basket)
Purpose: Created to help track activity and improve customer web experience
Con: Does not attribute customer engagement across multiple touchpoints on multiple domains.

Third-party cookies:

What is it? A cookie created by third-party servers (e.g. and ad server on a publishers’ site)
Purpose: Created to help advertisers retarget relevant customers
Con: Privacy concerns

Why cookies can be a good thing. And how advertisers can do better

So should you accept cookies or not when you visit a website? In the podcast, Bryan Rios said that he now takes the time to consider whether he wants to accept or decline a website’s cookies.

When Bryan lived in Los Angeles he drove everywhere, and one of the ads that was targeted at him was for a gym bag. However, at the time he didn’t need a bag as he kept all his gym gear in the car.

However, when Bryan found out he was moving to Japan, he decided he needed the gym bag after all. Despite scrolling through his social media feeds for several days, he couldn’t find the ad for the gym bag.

This experience made him realise that there are times where he sees products that are inline with his interests and needs.

From an advertising perspective, there is so much more that marketers can do to create a better user experience. In Bryan’s case, he wasn’t able to remember the brand name of the gym bag that originally peaked his interest. A potential sale missed for the brand and Bryan a little less stylish.

Unfortunately, the ability to use data for targeting isn’t always matched by the quality of the messaging. Some advertisers solely focus on targeting consumers based on what they last saw on a shopping site or affinity.

This is why consumers can get annoyed with their online experience, as it can be jarring and irrelevant. To create a seamless journey for the consumer, the key is for advertisers to acknowledge where the consumer is in their journey and integrate creative and data to build a relevant experience for the user.
Can we afford to live in an ad-free world?

Some people just don’t like ads. But why do ads exist? Yes, while ads allow brands to reach their target audience online, it also helps to pay the bills for publishers. For example, you and I get to enjoy The New York Times for free because it’s fuelled by revenue made from advertising. This helps them pay writers and to create content.

Even though some of us are privy to this, we still install ad-blockers to have an uninterrupted browsing experience. If we all did that, the internet would look a lot different. Your favourite websites, content creators, apps and so on wouldn’t be so ‘free’ anymore.

So if we do want to live in an ad-free world, how much would it cost? An article by Vox calculated it to be around USD$35 per month per user. Would you pay that amount for an ad-free internet experience?
So finally, should you accept cookies or not?

If you’re wondering whether you should accept or decline cookies, start by looking at your day to day consumption of apps or the internet. What you are consuming, and how convenient does it make your life?

For example, if you use UberEats or Grab a lot, let them track you. It will be much more convenient for you to let them know your location and your go-to order food places, so they can share similar restaurants.

However, many of the apps you have on your phone, such as news or games, may not serve you as much purpose by allowing them to track you.

Ultimately, as Joshua Grant highlighted in the podcast, the key question to ask yourself is: is my experience with this app, brand or website going to be made better if they know more about me? If the answer is yes, then accept cookies. If the answer is no and you are good with having a generic experience then decline cookies.

At the end of the day, advertising powers the free internet.
How we protect user privacy with our unique solution for a cookie-less world

As a UK-founded company, we had to adjust and invest in our platform to become GDPR compliant. As a result we developed ActiveID, a future-proof solution to the cookie-less world.

The core of our solution is to keep user privacy at the forefront. As a consumer first product, the focus is to deliver consented advertising. ActiveID is agnostic, which means it can sit on our client’s site and plug into a Consent Management Platform (CMP). This enables consumers to choose whether or not they wish to allow Crimtan to use their data for advertising or not.

Want to learn more about privacy and user data? Watch the full podcast episode below:

Looking to find out more on how you can improve your customer experience? Get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.


About Wahl+Case

Wahl+Case is a recruitment agency based in Tokyo. They focus on Japan’s tech industry and work with both international as well as domestic companies. They cover technical and non-technical positions in various fields such as Consumer Tech, Enterprise Tech, AdTech and FinTech.

About the author

Joshua Wilson started his career in digital marketing in 2013 when he started his own affiliate marketing business promoting brands on social networks and mobile DSPs. From there, he moved into content and worked with brands to help build their online presence and communities.

Joshua started at Crimtan as a client services manager in 2015 working on the APAC business leveraging his knowledge for the market and Japanese language skills. In 2018, Joshua moved to Tokyo to build and open the Crimtan Japan office. Now in the role of Commercial Director, JAPAC, Joshua oversees the operation in the region promoting Crimtan’s local and international capabilities.