April 18, 2012, 3:58 PM

Online shoppers are hesitant to accept web cookies

Only 23% are eager to use the marketing technology, a survey says.

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Web cookies leave a bad taste in consumers’ mouths, according to the results of a survey that measured online users’ opinions of the coding that is routinely added to consumers’ computers and are capable of collecting, storing and sharing data.

The results of a survey of online consumers in the United Kingdom could suggest challenges ahead for web site operators in Europe, including e-commerce sites. That’s because site operators soon will have to get consumers’ permission before installing cookies, according to a law recently passed in the European Union.

Just 23% of consumers say they’re happy to say “yes” to web sites that want to add cookies to their computers; 60% say “maybe” and 17% say “no,” according to an online survey of 1,600 U.K. consumers conducted in March by market research firm Econsultancy, which has offices in the United States and United Kingdom.

Econsultancy says consumers are more inclined to accept cookies from a web site they are familiar with. Their acceptance also depends on what type of cookie the web site wants to install. 60% of consumers say they’re happy to consent to cookies that store log-in details and shopping cart contents. 35% say they’re happy to accept analytics cookies that collect information about how consumers use the site so site operators can make improvements.

Fewer consumers, though, are inclined to accept cookies that’ll help companies advertise to them. Just over one fifth (21%) of consumers say they’re happy to accept cookies that are used to show them ads based on the interests they express via their online browsing behavior, and 17% say they’re happy to accept cookies that are used to target advertising to them on other web sites, an increasingly popular form of online advertising known as retargeting.

Half of consumers say they’d use another web site if declining cookies meant a web site wouldn’t be as easy to use. 26% say they’d accept the cookies if saying “no” made the site less easy to use or it didn’t work as normal; and 24% say they’d keep using the site despite the issues, rather than consent to cookies.

Sam Yagan, CEO of online dating site OkCupid.com will present the session “You know more about your customers than you think you do,” and explain how retailers can find hidden gold buried in their customer data in a presentation at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012 in Chicago.

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