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First Party vs Third Party Cookies: What’s the Difference?

August 27, 2020
Mekealy Gecsek
Cookies

The internet and all of its works can be – at best- difficult to comprehend. With concerns around user privacy and data tracking becoming more prevalent as technology continually adapts and changes, understanding what is happening with our data is more important than ever.  Advertisers and marketers must become aware of users’ hesitations in order to successfully navigate the treacherous terrain of the digital advertising landscape.

For many years now, the cookie has been at the centre of most, if not all, digital marketing campaigns. However, with the recent introduction of third-party cookie parameters across popular web browsers including Chrome, Safari and Firefox, it has become essential to understand the difference between first and third-party cookies.

First of all, we need to identify what a cookie actually is. A cookie is a small piece of data that can be used to classify who you are and your user behaviour in order to improve your user experience online. A cookie is labelled with a unique ID that allows websites, advertisers and brands to showcase advertisements on topics that you might be interested in, based on previous websites you have visited.

However, it is important to note that first party and third-party cookies are very different and can be used for different things.

First party cookies are stored by the website that you are visiting. A first party cookie allows the publisher or website to collect analytics and data, and tailor their site specifically for you. First party cookies are not shared across the web but are instead used by website owners to perform functions that will increase your user experience on their own site.  This type of cookie is usually considered good, as they help a site remember key pieces of information such as the items you placed in your shopping cart or the language settings you have selected. 

Third party cookies, on the other hand, are used across multiple websites and aren’t created by the site you are visiting (hence why they are called third-party). These cookies are most regularly used to track user behaviour across the web, and for behaviour-based digital advertising campaigns. This type of cookie is more often than not considered to be bad, as issues regarding user privacy, data, and tracking often arise from the use of third-party cookies.

Recently, Google Chrome announced that it will no longer allow third party cookies to be used across its browser, joining a long list of others including Safari and Firefox. Whilst this can be seen as a good thing for users, many digital advertisers will soon have to change their tactics if they still want to successfully target the right audience in a way similarly to how they have been able to in the past.

The decommisioning of the cookie and a wave of new regulations are leaving advertisers questioning the future of targeting across digital advertising.

Viztrade offers a refreshing alternative to targeting with cookies by using context and location.  Utalising contextual and location-based targeting, Viztrade can demonstrate that advertisements in contextually relevant environments outperform complex and hyper-targeted cookie-based campaigns.

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