A cookie is a small text file that is placed on your computer (or other web-enabled device) by websites each time you visit them. The data in these tiny files is read each time your web browser requests a page from the web server and provides practical benefits to you by making access to websites a smoother experience than it otherwise would be.
Cookies are useful because they allow a website to recognise a user's device. They typically contain the name of the domain from which the cookie has come, the 'lifetime' of the cookie, and a value (usually a randomly generated unique number).
Some cookies are deleted when you close down your browser. These are known as session cookies. Others remain on your device until they expire or you delete them from your cache. These are known as persistent cookies and enable the website to remember things about you as a returning visitor.
Cookies can be broken down into four main categories:
- Category 1 - Strictly Necessary Cookies: These cookies are essential to enable you to move around the website and use particular features such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services you have asked for cannot be provided.
- Category 2 - Performance Cookies: These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information that identifies a visitor. All of the information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works.
- Category 3 - Functionality Cookies: These cookies allow the website to remember choices you make (such as your user name, language or the region you are in) and provide enhanced, more personal features. These cookies can also be used to remember changes you have made to text size, fonts and other parts of web pages that you can customise. They may also be used to provide services you have asked for such as watching a video or commenting on a blog. The information these cookies collect may be anonymised and they cannot track your browsing activity on other websites.
- Category 4 - Targeting Cookies or Advertising Cookies: These cookies are used to deliver adverts relevant to you and your interests. They are also used to limit the number of times you see an advertisement as well as help measure the effectiveness of the advertising campaign. They are usually placed by advertising networks with the website operator's permission. They remember that you have visited a website and this information is shared with other organisations such as advertisers. Quite often targeting or advertising cookies will be linked to site functionality provided by the other organisation. The third party companies we are in association with include: Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Facebook, YouTube, DoubleClick, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter.