As of October 24th, Facebook will be offering a first-party cookie option for the Facebook Pixel. A recent Digiday article offers this explanation from Facebook, “[This will] help businesses continue understanding site activity and ad attribution across browsers. This change is in line with updates made by other online platforms, as the use of first-party cookies for ads and analytics is becoming the preferred approach by some browsers. The controls people have over ads will not change.” But is this a significant change for marketers and advertisers? We break it down.
Why Is Facebook Adding First-Party Cookies to Their Pixel?
You need them to keep getting your data. With more and more internet users protected from third-party cookies because of user experience (UX) controls, GDPR and other privacy concerns, first-party is fast becoming the best way to access the data that allows audience customization. A brand’s relationship with Facebook users can be based on this customization, so it’s essential Facebook continues getting user data for the advertising model to continue working.
How Is Facebook Doing This?
Shrug emoji. It’s a bit complicated. After a user clicks on a Facebook-user ad, a unique string is appended to the landing page URL. If that site has pixels that are opted-in to share first-party cookie data with Facebook, the new URL parameter will get written into the user’s browser as a first-party cookie. The “how” is all done by Facebook without any admin or IT involvement from the marketer or advertiser end, so understanding how it’s done is less important than understanding the benefits of first-party cookies.
Do I Want First-Party and Third-party Cookies?
Yes. You will benefit from having both first-party and third-party cookies. Unless you are in a highly regulated industry like healthcare or finance, with possible privacy concerns, Facebook’s first-party cookie is good for business. First-party cookies are longer lasting and often more user friendly, offering better visitor recognition and personalized content after repeat visits. From Digiday: “Advertisers should use both types of cookies if they want to keep making custom audiences on Facebook based off of the data they receive from a pixel as well if they want to better optimize dynamic ads. If not, brands will have to continue to operate without data from Safari users or those protected by GDPR.”
What if I Don’t Want to Enable my Facebook First-Party Cookie?
You can opt out and just keep your third-party cookie. The change is happening for any business that already uses the Facebook pixel. You don’t need to do anything to have the first- and third-party cookies enabled, but you can opt out. You will receive a change-to-user-interface notification from Facebook which explains how to turn off first-party cookies. Make sure you’re fully aware of what data you will miss out on, however, if you do choose to disable the new option.
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For a thorough look at what first and third-party data can do for you, how they function effectively for marketers and recent regulations about their usage, read First-Party vs. Third-Party Data: Consumer Engagement for the Win.