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Sites deliver targeted advertising through ad serving technologies. Some sites have their own, but for the most part, sites use other companies who specialize in this form of technology to deliver their ads for them. Regardless of the form of ad serving, to deliver personalized content, these sites must all use a fairly simple technology called cookies.

What are cookies?

Every browser (the vehicle by which a computer accesses the Internet) is assigned an ID number. That ID number is held in a file called a cookie. That number is not attached to a name, just a number. Thousands of sites use cookies to enhance the user's Web viewing experience. Cookies cannot damage user files, nor can they read information from a user's hard drive. Cookies allow sites and advertisers to "remember" users across pages of a site and across multiple visits to a site. This feature enables e-commerce and Internet advertising in numerous ways, including:

  • Allowing personalization features such as stock portfolio tracking and targeted news stories
  • Allowing shopping cart capabilities and quick navigation across multiple zones of e-commerce sites
  • Remembering user names and passwords for future visits
  • Delivering advertisements targeted to a user's interests
  • Controlling ad frequency, or the number of times a user sees a given ad

How are cookies used by networks and ad servers?

When you are first served an ad by an ad server, it gives your browser a unique number and records that number in the cookie file of your computer. Then, when you visit a Web site on which that server is delivering ads, it can then read this number to help deliver relevant advertising to you.

Cookies allow networks and ad servers to:

  • Measure ad effectiveness, or the number of unique users who have viewed and clicked on ads.
  • View utilization of an advertiser's site beyond the ad click. This helps our advertisers cater their content to best answer the needs of their customers.
  • Measure reach, or the number or unique users who have visited a site in a given period of time.
  • Control ad frequency to assure a user is not bombarded with the same ad over and over again.
  • Align user interests with relevant advertisements. For example, users who click on sports ads tend to be interested in car ads also.
  • Through partnerships with our advertisers, compile targetable lists of cookies representing users who have visited the advertiser's site or clicked on the advertiser's banner.


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