Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Report: 40 percent of internet users erasing cookies regularly

A new study by Jupiter Research claims that up to 40 percent of all internet users are deleting their "cookies" on a monthly basis - the small files that a company's website sends to your computer, to track how often you visit and where you go. Marketing expert Seth Godin questions whether this number could be true - these are the same people, after all, who still can't seem to understand not to click on suspicious email attachments, no matter how many damn times you tell them. Threadwatch's Nick Wilson, on the other hand, assumes that this number comes from the automated programs that will wipe your cookies for you, especially in this growing age of spamware, phishing and the like. (A couple of his tech-intensive readers, in fact, have left comments at his entry pretty much confirming this number, and claiming the growing popularity of automated cookie-removal applications as the reason it's so high.)

In any case, it means the same thing - between this, ad-blocking software and RSS feeds, the ways we've traditionally counted the number of visitors to a website are rapidly becoming as obsolete as an AOL homepage in a MovableType world. I can't even trust my own Sitemeter reports, for example, because they only track the people who physically visit the page; but since my entire page is designed so that you subscribe to it and never physically visit it again, the statistics that Sitemeter gives me are almost worthless (besides learning how many potential new subscribers I might h