In its simplest form, this text file usually contains a long unique string of characters that helps the web site recognize that visitor when he/she makes subsequent page requests. One purpose of a cookie is to let the server keep track of important information through the course of a visit, such as the items added to a shopping cart by a visitor. Without a cookie, many online transactions would not be possible because the web site would not be able to associate information entered on the shipping address page with information entered on the payment page, as one example.
The browser user controls whether a browser accepts cookies or not. If the browser is set to accept cookies, WebTrends can use the cookie character string to divide the mass of page views into individual visits. If a cookie is the persistent type that is stored on the client’s hard disk, WebTrends can use the cookie to define a visitor as either first-time or returning. WebTrends can also use the cookie to associate previous visits with a particular visitor in order to report on past purchases, lifetime value, or past responses to campaigns.