What’s the Difference Between First-Party and Third-Party Cookies?

A cookie or more formal HTTP Cookie (also called web cookie, Internet cookie, browser cookie, or simply cookie) is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on the user’s computer by the user’s web browser while the user is browsing. Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember stateful information (such as items added in the shopping cart in an online store) or to record the user’s browsing activity (including clicking particular buttons, logging in, or recording which pages were visited in the past). They can also be used to remember arbitrary pieces of information that the user previously entered into form fields such as names, addresses, passwords, and credit-card numbers.

What are first-party cookies?

First-party cookies are just cookies. They work and behave as they are designed to. These are originated from the primary domain visited by the user, hence becoming first-party cookies.

Are there two-party cookies?

The answer is yes they are. In the context of advertising, second party data implies sharing data or buying it from a “trusted partner”. This trusted partner collected first party data and now wants to sell or share it with you. An airline might be a trusted partner with a hotel. I know person ABC123 has purchased a flight every year in November to the same destination. Before next year’s flight is booked, that person might be interested in a discount for a new hotel recently built in that area. In many cases, there is a large agency or software vendor that can facilitate the sharing of someone’s first party data (now called 2nd party data) with another of their clients.

What are third-party cookies?

Third-party cookies don’t originate from the primary domain visited by the user. These cookies often result from the services publishers add to make their sites work better (like adding social buttons or chat services or others).

Why Use Third-Party Cookies?

For ad industry, ad targeting is a huge affair. Third-party cookies are used to gather information on user behaviour such as visited websites, time spends, clicks, geographical location, and more. This is to create an elaborated profile of the user to show them only relevant ads. Because of this, ads get more impressions and have a better chance of a conversion.

Third party services: Most publishers nowadays use third-party services like a chatbot. In order to install the chatbot on their platform, publishers are asked to put a code to their websites. This code contains cookies.

The purpose of chatbot cookies is to remember the users and their previous conversations. If users delete the cookies, the chat history and related information will be lost too.

Generally, cookies have an expiration date. Meaning, once installed, cookies automatically delete themselves from the users’ device, after a fixed time interval. Moreover, users can delete cookies from their devices, anytime.

Cookies are encrypted form of data to avoid any fraud or data leak. On top of everything, users always have the option to decline the cookies that load on their browsers.