Return Of The EU Cookie Directive

by David Whitehouse
See Dave Speak SMX London

Towards the end of yesterday, I noticed a new article on the Information Commissioner’s Office’s website entitled ‘Must try harder’ on cookies compliance, says ICO. And I realised yesterday that this change is inevitable, eventually, with time, we’re all going to have to implement this. The consequences have the potential to seriously damage our industry, destroying jobs and I think, possibly, have a significant slow down effect on the UK economy. Let me explain a bit more about that.

Why Analytics & Tracking Is So Important

The majority of digital marketers out there now how important it is to track stuff, it enables you to calculate ROI and determine where marketing budget is being wasted and where it is being well spent. With less tracking capability and highly inaccurate data, we’re going to see businesses (particularly small ones) start to cut back on their advertising online. If you’ve ever lost an SEO client when you know you were bringing in plenty of extra £’s but you haven’t been able to prove it, then you will understand what I mean. Also if you’ve had to reduce cost per clicks on AdWords because you weren’t getting high enough conversion rates despite you knowing that a % of visits will be phoning. So I think this is going to hit the industry quite badly.

Say Goodbye To 90%+ Of EU Analytics Data

People have complained about Google’s recent change that affected around 1-5% of organic searches, which as a proportion of overall traffic on most retail sites is even smaller than 1%. Well just imagine what this cookie directive could do, let’s say on average maybe 10% opt-in to let you use Google Analytics (and that’s optimistic I might add), that means we are all going to lose 90% of analytics data. I don’t know about you, but that scares me a lot – in a lot of cases, there won’t be enough data to do statistically significant analysis – bad decisions will be made on unreliable data.

More Guidance – Still Not Easy To Implement

They’ve released some better guidance, although it’s still not very clear on how to go about it – some technical guidance would have been useful. At the moment I’ve seen one person contact the David Naylor blog with a service that does this all for you, sadly I tried it out and it didn’t work, which was a bit of a shame. So even people creating a dedicated service are having difficulty implementing it.

Adoption – How Is It Going 6 Months In?

So you’d expect the big companies to be on this right now, I started off by checking Amazon in Google Chrome (I’ve cleared my cookies before visiting each website separately)…

Amazon – 4 First Party Cookies, 1 Third Party Cookie

Amazon Cookies

Three of these cookies appear to be session related, however there is one cookie named “ubid-acbuk” – I’m not sure what this does, but if anyone recognises it please let us know in a comment. There was no cookie opt-in displayed to me.
Amazon DoubleClick Cookie
A DoubleClick cookie is a bit of a nono really, I don’t see why they need to set a cookie for this, plus it is an advert, so it is definitely unnecessary.

BBC – 2 First Party Cookies

BBC Cookies
Again, not sure what these cookies do, I imagine “BBC-UID” is a session id of some sort and “s1″ I’m not sure, but could be related to a server? Still not too bad, it looks as those these are necessary for the operation of the website – I didn’t have a cookie opt-in option.

Directgov – 7 First Party Cookies

Directgov Cookies
As you can see Directgov is blatantly ignoring the rules, they have 4 cookies that are for Google Analytics, analytics packages have been mentioned as something you need explicit permission to use if you want to store cookies on their device. There are 3 other cookies, one is probably a session cookie, I’m not sure about the other two. Again I can’t see any cooke opt-in option anywhere.

Ebay – 2 Third Party Cookies, 7 First Party Cookies


I had a look at all of these, I can’t determine what they do, but they most certainly aren’t just session cookies, also a third party DoubleClick cookie was included like Amazon. Again I had not been provided a cookie opt-in.

The Sun – 102 Third Party Cookies, 11 First Party Cookies

Sun Cookies
Sun Cookies
Wow, when I first decided to have a look at the Sun homepage, thinking it might be a little bit worse than the others, I had absolutely no idea I would find something as shocking as this – 102 third party cookies!!! 113 cookies in total! The Sun are seriously taking the piss when it comes to this cookie law – not only was there no cookie opt-in, but there wasn’t even a mention of cookies on the site.

The Dave Naylor Website – 3 3rd Party Cookies, 4 1st Party Cookies

Davidnaylor Cookies
Ok so we’re not perfect, but not bad – at the moment I think we’re waiting to see what happens with the big boys such as Amazon, Ebay and even Directgov. If the Ico can’t get these large organisations to play ball, then why should the smaller organisations bother? But the shocking thing I noticed? The Sun’s cookie is still there! I’m not quite sure why… It seemed to get removed when I deleted it specifically.

Anyways, at the moment this is one of two reasons I want to leave Europe, it IS going to have an impact on our economy, until the browsers get themselves sorted that is.

Also, I asked Avinash Kaushik on Twitter what the Google Analytics team are doing about this to help us out in the EU, sadly I’ve not had a reply yet, but to be fair I only asked him about 12 hours ago! Turns out I’m a bit of a doofus and I actually tweeted his old account, apologies Avinash.

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