What’s The Cost of Opting Out of Internet Cookies?

BU Questrom marketing expert explores how the ability to track our online activity impacts the digital economy.

A study recently published in Marketing Science by Questrom’s Garrett Johnson, assistant professor of marketing, and his research collaborators from the University of Colorado and the University of Rochester examined the state of online advertising and the value of consumers’ online data and how they interact with targeted digital ads.

The average person views an estimate of over 1,000 online ads every month, and the majority of them are placed with the help of cookies, packets of data sent to your computer to enable a website to track your visits and activity. You’ve likely seen a disclaimer that certain sites use cookies—perhaps you’ve even blindly clicked “accept.” There are, however, ways to opt out of allowing cookie placement, and when many people opt out, it can impact a site’s ad profits. Johnson’s research posits that it might be detrimental for the internet user, too.

Johnston says that the collective data aggregated from Internet users subsidize for our free use of the Internet; moreover, many users actually do not opt out of cookie placement in their Internet browsers. “Privacy isn’t free, and it is something that people can and should value,” he added. “But limiting [how websites access your surfing] information has economic consequences in the world we’re living in.”

Continue exploring Johnston’s findings here.