I was taking my owner out for a walk in the rain the other day when I saw the coolest dog in our neighborhood sporting a new, bright yellow rain jacket.  And, whoa, rain booties to match!  Wow, what a canine fashionista that pooch was!  I decided right then and there that I had to find myself some new doggie duds, so I went online to start my quest to update my pooch persona.

I am dogmatic about quality so I went to throwmeabone.com, my online shopping site of choice.   Oooooh, the selections were to sit up and beg for!  But, you know, it wasn’t long after I was mousing around for my doggie desires that I started getting pop-up ads for things like giant droolicious dog bones; and 40 pound bags of grass-fed beef jerky treats; and real goose down doggie beds and…

“Wait a minute”, I thought to myself!  DogGoneIt How did they know those are things that I slobber for?  Who told them? I didn’t…   Or did I?

Actually, browsing bowser, you did tell “them”.   “Them” is the website that you visited and here’s how you left your pawprints there …

When you visited your favorite doggie website, throwmeabone.com, that site placed a cookie on your computer.  No, don’t think treats here.  A cookie is a small file, a tiny piece of text.  “Its job is to record bits of information such as the pages you have visited, items you put into an online shopping cart, your user name and password.” (information from http://www.techrepublic.com)

Without getting really technical, when you browsed to throwmeabone.com, that cookie allowed their web servers to store information about you and your browsing preferences on your computer.  That cookie also allowed those web servers to retrieve your info when you browsed to their site again in order to identify you.

But it gets a bit more complicated.  Besides their own product offerings, throwmeabone.com may use website content that they don’t have, like maps, ads, web analysis tools.  Instead of going to the expense of providing all that content on their site, they partner to get this “other” content from sites called “content providers” or “third-party providers”.  Content providers make their money by providing “content” to a large number of websites.  So, when you visited throwmeabone.com, information about you and your searching was gathered up, then sent to a content provider, who in turn, created a profile about your browsing preferences, which in turn was shared with other sites that also use the content provider’s “content”. And your shared browsing preferences became the source of pop-up ads and even future emails telling you about other doggie desires that might create an itch that you can scratch…

If none of this makes sense, don’t worry about it.  Just keep in mind that cookies, from this dog’s point of view, are an internet marketing ploy to make us slobber while emptying our doggie banks.

Sigh…   I sure hope this blogger writes soon about how to protect against cookies and leaving pawprints on the internet…

And come to think about it, wasn’t it a dog and his man that trained marketers to understand the slobber effect?

Blame it all on Pavlov…

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