Buddy King

Account Executive

August 23, 2022

9 minute read

First Party vs. Third Party Cookies. What’s The Difference?

For the past 10 years, pretty much every website that you visit used cookies.  Cookies are small data files that are sent to your computer to help websites keep track of certain behaviors on their site.  While the majority of cookies are harmless, over the years the use of cookies has evolved into a more and more controversial practice. 

There are two main types of cookie, First Party and Third Party.  First party cookies are generally useful, and help improve overall user experience when on a website.  First party cookies keep track of things such as your username and password, and are not seen as controversial.  

Third party cookies however typically are seen as controversial.  Third party cookies are used to track things such as what you like to buy so that advertisers can target you in an attempt to get you to buy their products.

First Party Cookies

First party cookies are created by the host of the website that you are visiting, and they are used to enhance the experience of the website’s visitors.  First party cookies will hold onto useful information such as your username, address, payment information, if you added something to your cart, etc. 

These are generally good for an overall website experience and accepted by the public because they save you time and make revisiting a site easier.  They also are good for suggesting site content that is relative to you, and personalize your experience. Again, enhancing your overall experience.

Third Party Cookies

Third party cookies are created by someone other than the website host.  Third party cookies are made by advertisers for the purpose of tracking your behavior across the internet to target you with personalized messaging with the intention of getting you to purchase something.  If you ever notice eerily relevant ads when surfing the web, these are placed by third party cookies.

In recent years there has been major backlash from the general public about the use of third party cookies, because major companies have been mis-using and abusing this data.  This has resulted in some new data privacy laws.  One example of these laws is the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) laws.  GDPR laws require websites to have a pop-up asking users to consent to the use of cookies.  Another example of these laws is the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act).  CCPA allows consumers to ask companies what data they have about you, you can ask for your data not to be sold, and you can ask for your data to be deleted.

In recent years Firefox and Safari have gotten rid of third party cookies entirely, and Google has announced that they will be getting rid of third party cookies in 2024.  This will effectively make it much harder for advertisers to track you and your data online, totally changing the landscape on digital marketing.  But if you are an advertiser there are still plenty of options for getting your ads in front of the right people, and tracking the data you need to.

Cometly is a software that will help you track the performance of your social media advertising efforts without the use of ANY third party cookies!  You will be able to see which ads are driving your sales, and the true ROAS of your marketing efforts.  Start tracking your ads for free with Cometly. Learn more about how Cometly can help attribute revenue back to the correct ads and understand where customers are coming from → Get Cometly Demo