First-Party Third-Party Cookie

First-Party Third-Party Cookie

A third-party cookie is one that is placed on a user’s hard disk  by a Web site from a domain other than the one a user is visiting.

As with standard cookies, third-party cookies are placed so that a site can remember something about you at a later time. Both are typically used to store surfing and personalization preferences and tracking information.

Third-Party Cookies: What They Are (and Why They Might Not Be Around For Long)

Third-party cookies are currently the backbone of the digital advertising ecosystem .

Third-party cookies are small text files that are served from an ad network to track and send information between your computer and the multiple websites you visit. In simpler terms, third-party cookies collect information about your browsing trends, and send it to an ad network who uses the information to fill your browser with digital ads.

Using these cookies for digital advertising is a common occurrence today, but here are a few reasons advertisers are becoming wary of third-party digital advertising.

1. Third-party data collection is often inaccurate

Third-party ad measurement is a mess. It’s nearly impossible to track unadulterated data from third-party cookies because:

  • Many browsers block third-party cookies by default
  • Security programs delete third-party cookies every 5-7 days
  • The average U.S. household owns five devices connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi, wired or cellular networks

This last point is of interest, because with growing numbers of devices being used by each person (mobile, tablet, laptop, desktop, etc.) the numbers that most advertisers collect are dramatically inflated.

In fact, by some conservative estimates there are as many as 2.5 billion third-party cookies in distribution in the United States alone. Since there are only approximately 320 million people in the U.S., this makes it nearly impossible to provide accurate data on a one-to-one basis.

2. Third-party ads are often based on look-alike segments

Since most ads are served based on the information collected by third-party cookies, it’s not difficult to see how true ad penetration rates for a given audience are built on over inflated information.

For example, it’s not uncommon for a person to receive an ad to buy a car simply because they visited a dealership’s website. While this information could be perfectly legitimate, consider how it might also be inaccurate.

To illustrate this point, take an average customer, Susan, who has been shopping for a car. Third-party cookies typically pick up on this behavior tagging her within an active auto buyer segment. That third party cookie is sold repeatedly to advertisers looking for active auto buyers. Once Susan buys a new car, let’s say it is a Ford, her next logical ad impression might be a service introduction from the dealership or an extended warranty offer, etc. Thanks in large part to the proliferation of third party cookies, Susan will likely receive new vehicle ads from Ford for a week or two, possibly more AFTER she has parked her new Ford vehicle in her garage. The result is not only wasted valuable marketing spend, but also potentially creating negative brand impressions.

3. Third-Party Cookies Are Often Blocked or Deleted

Consumers have negative feelings about online data collection and have started blocking third-party cookies. Nearly 40% of cookies are blocked and 30% are deleted .

Security programs target third-party cookies and delete them every 5-7 days .

Browsers are also on the move against third-party cookies. Safari, iOS, and Firefox currently block third-party cookies by default and other large players, including Google, have made mention of doing the same.

This is a huge backlash against third-party cookies and could have a detrimental impact on the current landscape of digital advertising.

First-Party Data: A Key Distinction

Unlike third-party cookies, first-party data is served directly from the publisher’s (or advertiser’s) domain. In other words, first-party information is placed on your computer only by the website you’re visiting. Think of it as a closed line of communication: your computer is communicating directly with the website you’re on, and vice-versa. No one else can jump in on the conversation.

So, when it comes to advertising, utilizing a first-party framework offers a vast array of positive implications.

1. First-party Data is Rarely Blocked

Less than 5% of people block first-party cookies since they are sourced from trusted sites that the users frequent and users typically do not want to be inconvenienced when they visit these sites in the future. They’re vital to the web browsing experience as they make you recognizable as an individual and inform the interactions you have while browsing a site.

The result is advertising with first-party immediately reduces the number of people blocking your ads.

2. First-party Campaigns Yield Higher ROI

When visiting a website, an end user has to voluntarily provide a certain amount of information to the site they’re on. This can be anything from basic interaction to accessing or updating an account they’ve created. The point is that when an ad is served from a first-party advertiser, the user generally has a pre-existing relationship with the company they’re receiving the ad from, increasing the likelihood that they’ll respond.

In fact, surveys show that in campaigns where existing customers make up only 22% of impressions, they account for over 60% of the purchases.

3. Advertisers can Serve Ads with Greater Accuracy

Since a user generally provides information to a publisher when they access an account on the publisher’s site, the publisher has the most current information about where the user is in the sales funnel. This allows the publisher to serve an ad with increased accuracy.

Returning to our illustration, if Susan is looking to buy a car and creates an account on, Ford knows that she hasn’t yet purchased a car and can offer her a first-time buyer incentive. But if Susan buys a car from Ford, then the next time she is browsing the web, she won’t receive an outdated ad trying to sell her a car. Instead, within the first-party framework, Ford can serve an ad listing additional products or services she can access to enhance her recent purchase.

This is an incredibly important element of first party advertising because it opens up digital display advertising as a viable channel for one-to-one communication with customers.

4. Users Experience Greater Privacy with First-party Data

Unlike third-party data collection, which tracks a user’s browsing trends across multiple websites, first-party data collection only allows tracking between a user and the website they visit. Since most users have at least a basic understanding that they’re providing some kind of information to a website they visit, there is much less contention around the tracking that happens with first-party data.

Cross domain user tracking using cookies

  1.  Cross domain user tracking using cookie.You can follow the same concept used in Google Analytics.  Injecting javascript in the pages you want to track.
  2.  If both domain support google analytics js (analytics.js) , get client-id from cookies generated by google
  3. Pass  client-id as a parameter in query string to the next domain.

Its not an easy task to start doing it on your own from scratch , if both domains don’t have google analytics script added and user tracking already enabled by google , in that case cookie generated by ga will be same on both domains and you can obtain the user info based on it.

You can also include google analytics scripts and adjust settings for cross domain as explained in following link:



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3 thoughts on “First-Party Third-Party Cookie”

  1. Driving first-party data is the solution of all. With the help of this data businesses can know about their customers well that not only help them to make strategies but also offer more customized offers to their existing customers and new users. The article is well explained and it is very worthy to read about the different types of customer data.
    Thank you for sharing the article.

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