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Web Cookies Decoded: Types, Disclaimer Banners & Tips

Apr 5, 2024 | Web

Home > Web Cookies Decoded: Types, Disclaimer Banners & Tips

You’ve probably noticed it when you visit a website, the little banner pops up that asks you to accept the cookies? Over the years it’s become more and more prevalent on websites as the privacy regulations have increased. This blog will cover:

  1. What web cookies are
  2. The different types of cookies (no not chocolate chip vs snickerdoodle – sorry)
  3. What the disclaimer banner is 
  4. Why you need a disclaimer banner
  5. Tips on setting up the disclaimer banner

What are web cookies?

A cookie for a website is a small piece of data that is stored on a user’s device by the web browser when the user is viewing pages. These cookies are used to remember information about the users’ visit to the website. This may include login credential, preferences and other settings. Cookies play a role in enhancing user experience by allowing the website to recognize users. 

What do cookies do & types of cookies?

Web cookies serve a multitude of purposes, from personalization to tracking and analysis. These pieces of data can work to remember your language preferences, store information such as items in a shopping cart, or simply provide additional insights to website owners on how users interact with their website. Let’s break it down a little bit more to fully understand the different categories of website cookies: 

  • Session vs. Persistent: 

    • Session Cookies: are temporary helpers – these are the cookies that disappear when you close out of your browser and store information only for a single visit.
    • Persistent Cookies: these cookies stick around even after you close your browser, they store information for your future visits. For example, if you notice a website storing your preferred language on a website – that is due to a persistent cookie. These types of cookies sometimes raise privacy concerns as they are the reason that you see ads similar to your interests. 
  • Necessary vs. Elective:

    • Necessary cookies: these types of cookies are exempt from cookie consent as they are essential for the website to function. For example, this may be a cookie that enables you to log into a website or use a shopping cart etc.
    • Elective cookies: these types of cookies allow users to customize their experience or allow marketers to track the users activity. These cookies remember what you put in your cart even after you leave. 
  • First-party vs. Third-party

    • First-party cookies: these are cookies that are available to the domain that created it. These cookies are viewed as an agreement between the user and the website to help things run better. 
    • Third-party cookies: Oftentimes getting a bad rep, these cookies are accessible on any website that loads the third-party’s server code. These are most often used for advertising purposes. 

So what’s the big deal when all of this initially sounds like a benefit? 

Well, web cookies actually raise some privacy concerns. Not only are some users uncomfortable with the idea of websites tracking their online activities but there regulatory developments have even arisen from it. These regulatory developments include providing options for users to block or delete the cookies, which is what brings us to the next important piece of having a cookie disclaimer banner. 

What is a Cookie Disclaimer Banner?

A cookie disclaimer banner is a notification on a website, often in the form of a pop up,  that tells visitors about the business and use of the cookies. This banner aims to obtain a user’s consent to store cookies on the browser.

Do you need a cookie disclaimer banner? 

The quick and easy answer is yes, as its always a good idea to have all of your bases covered, BUT there’s definitely some nuance involved. In the US, many tracking pixel providers like Google with their GA4 product, have removed data that could be used to identify you as a unique individual. While that covers you for domestic regulations, some international ones like GDPR in the EU require you to still disclose any kind of data collection, even if its anonymous. Better to be safe and get one implemented than than risk the potential consequences. Having the banner ensures you have the consent of everyone so you can meet every legal requirement no matter who in the world is visiting your site.

What should be included in the cookie consent banner? 

The cookie consent banner must do the following in order to adhere to global privacy laws: 

  • Identify what cookies you use
  • Inform users of what cookies you use
  • Obtain their consent
  • Give them the ability to withdraw consent
  • Record cookie consent 

The other pieces of the cookie consent banner depend on the industry you are in as some industries are much more highly regulated than others. However, the way that you present this banner, can be influenced by your brand voice and legal department. 


Tips on Setting up a Cookie Disclaimer 

Make it prominent yet branded consistently

The disclaimer warning should not only be easy to understand but it should be prominently displayed so that you can get voluntary consent easily. Make sure that the branding of the disclaimer matches your website/brand aesthetic and colors. This will ensure that it feels as though it’s not only an intentional part of the website but also connects it to your brand more.

Voluntary consent button

You need to ensure that you are providing user-informed consent which requires that users have the option to opt-out. This option needs to be just as convenient as the opt-in selection. 

No pre-checked boxes

In order to fully comply with GDPR and other cookie warning laws, all checkboxes must be blank; if they are pre-checked you are violating GDPR. This is because users’ consent must be obtained freely. 

Selective cookie usage

Another part of obtaining informed consent is allowing users to select the type of cookies that they authorize. This means giving them an option to deselect any cookie types (ie third party cookies) if they so choose. 


Implementing effective cookie disclaimers not only ensures legal compliance but also fosters trust and transparency with your website visitors. By being upfront about data collection practices and offering users control over their privacy settings, you can create a more positive and trustworthy online experience.

Remember, respecting user privacy is paramount. As technology evolves and privacy regulations become more stringent, staying informed and proactive is key. By following best practices for cookie disclosure and management, you can build a more ethical and user-friendly website while safeguarding user data and trust.


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