The Original Concept
Cookies and Advertising
With the increasing commercial applications of the Internet, it was probably inevitable that cookies would quickly be utilized for advertising purposes. Since cookies can be matched to the profile of a user's interests and browsing habits, they are a natural tool for the "targeting" of advertisements to individual users. Marketing consultants such as DoubleClick Inc. and MatchLogic quickly began to utilize cookies to increase the efficiency of the placing of advertisements on websites (Williamson). Their intent is to target advertisements such as changing banner ads to users whose profiles match those of likely consumers of the advertised products. For example, DoubleClick was retained by the 3M Corporation to help target Internet banner advertising for an expensive multi-media projector to those users who would be most likely to purchase it. DoubleClick made use of the information cookies provided about user browsing habits to match the banners with users who had a history of selecting high-technology sites (Moukheiber, 342). DoubleClick also indicates that another reason for using cookies is to prevent users from "being bombarded with the same ad over and over again" (DoubleClick on Privacy) by keeping track of how many times a user has been shown a banner at any website on which DoubleClick customers advertise. In addition, consecutive banner advertising can be shown to a user as they visit successive DoubleClick customer sites. Infoseek also matches advertising to user interests stored in their cookie: "a person who performs repeated searches on baseball topics may be shown an ad for the Sportsline Website" (Vonder Haar).