SNOOBI ANALYTICS AND THE USE OF “COOKIES”

This article explains the terms First-party and Third-party cookies and explains how they are used by Snoobi to collect metrics from a website.

(Updated to clarify cookie usage with Cookies=off switch)

What are cookies?

A definition of Wikipedia is:

  • Cookies are small bits of information that a server sends to the browser with the intention that this information is sent back to the server on a subsequent visit.
  • This makes it easy to keep track of information about the internet user, such as authentication, identification of a user session, preferences of a user or content of a web shopping cart.
  • A cookie is a small piece of script that is placed on the visitor’s computer by websites that are visited. Cookies are intended to make the use of the internet easier.
  • A cookie is installed to ensure that a combination of browser and computer is recognized when the visitor returns to a website, and for “session management” to identify a visitor during a single visit.

.

Differences between “first-party” and “third-party cookies”

All cookies contain information that provides insight into which website the owner is.
The owner is the website that is specified in the cookie.

The word “party” in the name refers to the domain that is mentioned in the cookie, in other words the website that places the cookie.
For example, if you visit the website www.facebook.nl and the cookie that is placed on your website is www.facebook.nl, then there is a “first-party cookie”.

When you visit the website www.facebook.nl and the cookie that is placed on your computer is called www.google.com, then there is a “third party cookie”.

“Second-party cookies” do not exist. The “second-party” is the visitor of a website, and it does not place cookies itself.

Which cookies does Snoobi use?

Snoobi uses “first-party cookies” only to recognize returning visitors.
The goal is to see if and which visitors return to the website; this is used, among other things, for analysing conversions. The identity of the person who visits the website always remains anonymous.

Snoobi uses “third-party cookies” to make analyses of visit routes (click paths) and sessions within different domains that a customer uses, within one Snoobi account.
An example of this is a customer with the websites forum.acme.com and www.acme.com that are tracked in one Snoobi account. 
With the help of a “third-party cookie”, Snoobi can view the visit of a few pages from one website and then pages from the other website as one single session.
The visit route is then displayed as one unique session, while multiple domains have been visited.

When no cookie setting is present in the Snoobi tracking code, the default is only to set 1st party cookies.

With the Snoobi tracking code you can choose:

  • Do not set cookies. (Cookies = off): only the existing session is measured and only session-specific cookies are set and destroyed. 
  • Set only first party cookies. (Cookies = 1st): all the visits to a site are measured but not in one session and across multiple sites.
  • Placing first and third party cookies.  (Cookies = true): traffic across multiple sites can be measured as a single session.

    Depending on the wishes of the user, this can be set per website. It is not possible to create a separate setting per page or part of the site. 
    If the visitor has set the DNT (Do-Not-Track) option in the browser then the behaviour is the same as if cookies are set to 'Off' meaning no cookies are stored on the visitor's browser other then the session cookies and they cannot be tracked as individual visitors.
    See full table below.


Examples of cookies used by Snoobi

When using the Snoobi application, several other cookies will be set that make the use of the application possible

NameActive when cookies=offDurationIs used for
SnoobiIdNo2  yearGeneral ID for Snoobi Analytics
SnoobiIDYesBrowser sessionGeneral ID for Snoobi Analytics
Snoobisession_accountYesBrowser sessionTo maintain the session, gets deleted at the end of the session (browser dependent)
Snoobi30minute_accountYesMax. 30 minutesUp to 30 minutes, to keep track of the session if the user navigates to another website or browser tab
Snoop_testi (or Snoobi-testi)NoBrowser sessionUsed to test to check if cookies are enabled in the browser; if this cookie can be set then cookies are allowed by the browser.
Snoobi_RandNoBrowser SessionRandom number to let the analytics server know that the Snoobi code is loaded, no user-identifyable elements.
SnoobiNo2 yearRandom unique number to recognize this browser for future visits

Note! Until 1 May 2018 Snoobi cookies were stored for longer periods, up to 230 months. Existing cookies will therefore remain intact during that period until the user deletes them.

Data processing and storage

  • All cookies, whether they are ‘first party’ or ‘third party’ cookies, are used in Snoobi Analytics for no other purpose than for the Snoobi Analytics data collection and cannot used by other tools or the website administrator.
  • This also applies to any IP address. In most cases (and in all cases for Finnish clients), the last octet of an IP address is removed to anonymize the visitor.
  • The use of persistent cookies (cookies that remain stored in the browser) is controlled programmatically by the website administrator by means of a parameter in the Snoobi code. When no cookie setting is available, the default is 1st party cookies only.
  • Cookies can also be disabled by not allowing the use of cookies in the browser, or only allowing 1st party cookies. If no cookies are allowed in the browser, Snoobi Analytics may not function.
  • The information obtained by Snoobi Analytics is stored and processed by Snoobi on behalf of the owner of the website in the European Union. Snoobi acts as a ‘data processor’ and uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) for this purpose (for snoobi.eu). Amazon.com, Inc. is certified under the EU-US privacy shield and AWS is covered by this certification. This helps customers who choose to transfer personal data to the Snoobi platform to meet their data protection obligations. The Amazon.com Inc. certification can be found on the EU-US Privacy Shield website: https://www.privacyshield.gov/list.
  • For the analytics managed by snoobi.com, data is collected and maintained exclusively in Finland on Finnish servers at Hetzner Online in Helsinki.