What are cookies and how do they work?
Cookies are small bits of text that are downloaded to your computer or mobile device when you visit a website. Your browser sends these cookies back to the website every time you visit the site again, so it can recognise you and can then tailor what you see on the screen.
Cookies are an important part of the internet. They make using websites much smoother and affect lots of the useful features of websites. There are many different uses for cookies, but they fall into four main groups.
Cookies that are needed to provide the service you have asked for
Some cookies are essential so you can move around the website and use its features. Without these cookies, services you've asked for can't be provided. These cookies don't gather information about you that could be used for marketing or remembering where you've been on the internet. Here are some examples of essential cookies.
Keeping you logged in during your visit; without cookies you might have to log in on every page you go to.
When you add something to the online shopping basket, cookies make sure it's still there when you get to the checkout.
Some are session cookies which make it possible to navigate through the website smoothly. However these are automatically deleted after you close your web browser. Improving your browsing experience.
These cookies allow the website to remember choices you make, such as your language or region and they provide improved features. Here are a few examples of just some of the ways that cookies are used to improve your experience on our websites.
Remembering your preferences and settings, including marketing preferences, such as opting in or out of marketing emails.
Remembering if you've filled in a survey, so you're not asked to do it again.
Remembering if you've been to the site before. If you are a first-time user, you might see different content to a regular user.
Restricting the number of times you're shown a particular advertisement. This is sometimes called 'frequency capping'.
Showing you information that's relevant to products of ours that you have.
Giving you access to content provided by social-media sites like Facebook or Twitter.
Showing 'related article' links that are relevant to the page you're looking at.
Remembering a location you've entered such as weather forecasts.
We like to keep track of what pages and links are popular and which ones don't get used so much to help us keep our sites relevant and up to date. It's also very useful to be able to identify trends of how people navigate (find their way through) our sites and if they get 'error messages' from web pages.
This group of cookies, often called 'analytics cookies' are used to gather this information. These cookies don't collect information that identifies you. The information collected is anonymous and is grouped with the information from everyone else’s cookies. We can then see the overall patterns of usage rather than any one person’s activity. Analytics cookies only record activity on the site you are on and they are only used to improve how a website works.
Some of our websites and some of the emails you might get from us also contain small invisible images known as 'web beacons' or 'tracking pixels'. These are used to count the number of times the page or email has been viewed and allows us to measure the effectiveness of its marketing and emails. These web beacons are anonymous and don't contain or collect any information that identifies you.
We also use 'affiliate' cookies. Some of our web pages will contain promotional links to other companies’ sites. If you follow one of these links and then register with or buy something from that other site, a cookie is sometimes used to tell that other site that you came from one of our sites. That other site may then pay us a small amount for the successful referral. This works using a cookie.
Showing advertising that is relevant to your interests
We may sell space on some of our sites to advertisers. The resulting adverts often contain cookies. The advertiser uses the browsing information collected from these cookies to:
Restrict the number of times you see the same ad (frequency capping)
Help show other ads that are relevant to you while you're on our websites. This is often called online behavioural advertising (OBA). OBA is a way of using information about your web-browsing activity, collected by using cookies, to group you with other users into interest groups and show you advertisements based on those interests. The OBA data collected from cookies you get when you're on our sites is only used to show relevant ads on our sites, not on other websites.
So how does OBA work? Let's look at an example. Imagine you visit a website about travel. That website shows an advert and with that advert you receive a cookie. Imagine you then visit one of our websites which has an advert from the same advertiser you saw on the travel site. The advertiser will give you a new version of the cookie you received on the travel site. The advertiser can then use that cookie to recognise that you've previously been to a travel site and show you a relevant ad.
Although the OBA data collected uses your browsing activity to understand your interests, the data is anonymous and isn’t linked to you as a person.
Neither we, nor the companies who show ads on our sites sell data collected from cookies to any other organisations.