We use a variety of online technologies, such as cookies, web beacons, and similar mechanisms, as described further below, to collect information that helps us understand how our websites and our mobile applications are used. Specifically, when you visit Vanguard online, we or our service suppliers may automatically collect a variety of technical and navigational information about you via these technologies, including, as applicable: your computer or device type; operating system version; browser type and version; user agent string; internet connection type; mobile network provider; date and time of your visit; time since your last visit; pages you view; links you click; searches you conduct; the internet protocol (IP) address used to access our websites or mobile applications; your general geographic location (e.g., your city, state, or zip code); and the website visited before our sites. We also may use similar tracking technologies in emails that we or our service suppliers send to you, as further described below. This information may be used, for example, to alert you to software compatibility issues, to resolve technical or service problems, and for security purposes. We also analyze this information, with the assistance of our service suppliers, to improve our website and mobile application design and functionality, to enhance our ability to serve you and your accounts, and to tailor our communications to you regarding our products and services.
Cookies: A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that is stored on your computer or other device when you visit a website or a mobile application. Cookies contain information that is transferred to or read on your device and allow websites and mobile applications to recognize devices and store certain information, such as user preferences. Cookies are used to distinguish you from other users of our online services. This helps us to provide you with a useful experience when you browse and also allows us to improve our online services. We and our service suppliers use session cookies, which link your actions during a particular online session and expire at the end of that session, as well as persistent cookies, which remain on your device and allow us to remember your actions or preferences across multiple browser sessions.
Web beacons: Our websites, our mobile applications, and the emails that you receive from Vanguard use an application known as a web beacon (also known as a pixel tag or clear gif). A web beacon is an electronic file that usually consists of a single-pixel image, embedded in a web or mobile application page or an email to measure usage and activity. In some cases, a web beacon triggers the placement of a persistent cookie on your device.
We and our service suppliers use web beacons and cookies to determine whether and when you receive and open our emails; these beacons and cookies may also capture information such as the type of device, operating system, email program, and web browser used to view the email, the IP address from which you opened the email, and whether you click any links in the email. These technologies enable us to gauge the effectiveness, relevance, and value of our email communications, as well as to target relevant advertising to you and to measure the impact of that advertising on your Vanguard relationships.
If you are a Vanguard investor who has registered for secure online access to your Vanguard accounts, we are able to combine the information we collect about your usage of our website or mobile application during a secure (logged-on) session with other information we know about you, such as any account transactions you conduct during your session. We can also identify your computer or device on each online visit to Vanguard, even if you do not log on, and link information about that visit, as well as Vanguard ads that you may have viewed on other websites, to you. We may use this combined information to assess the appeal and usefulness of the information and tools offered on our website and in our mobile application and the effectiveness of our online advertising, as well as to identify Vanguard products and services that may be of interest to you.