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Economic consequences of online tracking restrictions: Evidence from cookies
journal contributionposted on 2023-11-21, 04:33 authored by KM Miller, Bernd SkieraBernd Skiera
In recent years, European regulators have debated restricting the time an online tracker can track a user to protect consumer privacy better. Despite the significance of these debates, there has been a noticeable absence of any comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. This article fills this gap on the cost side by suggesting an approach to estimate the economic consequences of lifetime restrictions on cookies for publishers. The empirical study on cookies of 54,127 users who received ∼128 million ad impressions over ∼2.5 years yields an average cookie lifetime of 279 days, with an average value of €2.52 per cookie. Only ∼13 % of all cookies increase their daily value over time, but their average value is about four times larger than the average value of all cookies. Restricting cookies’ lifetime to one year (two years) could potentially decrease their lifetime value by ∼25 % (∼19 %), which represents a potential decrease in the value of all cookies of ∼9 % (∼5%). Most cookies, however, would not be affected by lifetime restrictions of 12 or 24 months as 72 % (85 %) of the users delete their cookies within 12 (24) months. In light of the €10.60 billion cookie-based display ad revenue in Europe, such restrictions would endanger €904 million (€576 million) annually, equivalent to €2.08 (€1.33) per EU internet user. The article discusses these results' marketing strategy challenges and opportunities for advertisers and publishers.