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Flash cookies and privacy

Posted by admin on June 28th, 2007 filed in Webanalytics general
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Cookie deletion is a big issue for the entire web analytics industry and other companies, that try to collect user data. A good way to work around this issue, are Flash cookies.

Flash cookies are certainly not the newest trend to pull data from ingenuous web user, but it is pretty astonishing that Google’s Youtube video portal saves my and your volume settings in a flash cookie.

This means that all Youtube users out there can delete the “not flash” cookies in their browser and still Google knows how loud to play the Youtube movie. Currently this is a small privacy issue and nobody really cares, but what happens when it comes to video advertising or contextual ads with “noise”.

You probably know that TV advertising usually sounds louder than the movie or show that you are watching. The noisy ads have to do with Peak Programme Meters (PPMs), which indicate the peak sound levels (the loudest part or parts) of ads’ soundtracks.Broadcasters are told to not exceed a level of 6 on the PPM.

So what does this have to do with Youtube?

By saving your volume settings Google has valuable data and can come up with video advertising, that will most probably bother you, but will work for “video advertisers” in a great way.

I assume Google won’t use the stored volume settings in the beginning of their video advertising tests, but at one point it will certainly be a differentiator for advertising on Youtube vs. another Video player, which doesn’t save volume settings in a flash cookies. Because there is also no controlling institution this data could be a great advantage over TV advertising.

This is just a small example of what can be done with Flash cookies. In the next post I will describe how to delete them.

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