What are first-party cookies? 

First-party cookies allow website owners to collect analytics data and remember user settings for a more personalized experience. First-party cookies are stored by the website or domain when it is visited. This allows websites to store login information on sites such as e-commerce, creating a faster login or purchase experience every time the website is visited. 

What are third-party cookies?

Third-party cookies are created by domains separate from the primary website visited. These cookies are primarily used for online advertising and scripts on websites. Information is retrieved from the website’s database onto a third-party’s server code. This information can be used to personalize advertisements on other frequented websites. While third-party cookies allow for personalized advertisements rather than random advertisements, they can invade privacy when used without direct permission. This advertising tool is primarily used to improve web-shopping experiences. 

The differences between first-party and third-party cookies

The primary purpose of first-party cookies is to enhance the overall user experience. In contrast, third-party cookies track user activity and display advertisements based on that activity. First-party cookies are available to the domain that created it, while third-party cookies are accessible on any website that loads the third-party’s server code. First-party and third-party cookies are supported by all browsers and can each be deleted by the user. Even though third-party cookies are supported by all browsers, many websites default to blockage. 

How browsers treat first-party and third-party cookies

The majority of web browsers automatically accept first-party cookies. Third-party cookies are not as accepted and are combated by browser programmers using ad-blockers and anti-trackers to protect user privacy. Many browsers like Safari and Firefox have settings that enable users to reject all cookie types. Due to privacy issues, companies such as Google Chrome will start blocking third-party cookies in 2024. A large majority of browsers will no longer allow websites to track users via third-party cookies in the future.

What are second-party cookies?

Second-party cookies are used in data-sharing agreements and represent data collection partnerships. Second-party cookies share data between the consumer, the website visited, and the website partner(s). First-party cookie data is collected by a website owner and shared with a trusted partner. The first-party data can then be used for ad delivery to relevant audiences, classifying the cookies as second-party. 

The future of third-party cookies

Over the past few years, third-party cookies have decreased in permissible use. Many international governments require full disclosure and authorized consent to activate third-party cookies, prompting many states and other governments to follow. With the increase in regulations, companies are beginning to discontinue using third-party cookies. Google announced the phasing out of third-party cookies in 2024. Apple has also introduced Intelligent Tracking Protections, making it impossible to use third-party cookies from cross-site tracking, analytics, and advertising. 

Eliminating third-party cookies aids consumer privacy while making it difficult for advertisers. Marketers must prioritize conversion rate optimization and first-rate website consumer experiences to stay competitive.

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