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Facebook Pixel Adds First-Party Cookie Option

3 MINUTE READ | November 1, 2018

Facebook Pixel Adds First-Party Cookie Option

Facebook recently introduced a first-party cookie option for the Facebook Pixel, making them the latest digital platform to do so. This new feature automatically went into effect on October 24th, unless an advertiser opts-out via their pixel settings in Facebook’s Events Manager.

Facebook's Events Manager

A cookie is a piece of code or file created by a website that has anonymous information about the visitor that can be used in a variety of ways. For example, a cookie can be used to remember a visitor’s recently viewed items or used to save information that is later leveraged to serve the most relevant ads.

Cookies are stored under the domain of the business that has written the code. For example, if a user visits a page, jaspersmarket.com/fruits and a cookie are written by jaspersmarket.com, then this cookie is considered a first-party cookie. However, when the cookie is written by another company, with a different domain, using code on the page, for example, facebook.com, then this is considered a third-party cookie. Generally, first-party cookies are more widely accepted by browsers and stored for longer, while within some browsers, third-party cookies are completely blocked.

Following similar changes from platforms like Microsoft and Google, this release is in response to many browsers disabling third-party cookies, which has impacted Facebook’s ability to track website activity across Apple’s Safari and (soon-to-be) Mozilla’s Firefox browsers. Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention, which launched last year, blocked third-party cookies, meaning Facebook’s ability to measure conversions, optimize performance, and build audiences has been limited.

With this new feature, when a user clicks on an ad served by Facebook, a unique string of numbers will be tacked onto the URL of the landing page, which allows the cookies to be written into the browser. This first-party relationship will allow brands and advertisers to receive higher-quality information as well as have access to this information over a longer period of time; helping to improve frequency tracking among other analytics. None of these changes should have any effect on any other existing tracking already included within your URLs or on your website.

With the cookies created and owned by the domain holder, it is important to review your website’s privacy policy and compliance with Facebook Business Tools Terms, which requires brands to clearly disclose to website visitors how you use cookies and how you share data collected on your website with third parties. To help users understand, you can also inform visitors that they can view their Facebook ads settings and update their preferences at any time.

For those who choose to opt-out, access to Facebook’s ad products will not change in any way, but they may find that the reporting and granularity of data will become more affected over time as additional browsers continue to make changes to block third-party cookies.

Overall, unless brands have a pre-existing concern about data privacy due to the nature of their industry (ex. financial, medical, etc.), the implementation of the first-party cookie tracking through Facebook’s pixel appears to have minimal to no disadvantages to existing strategy or execution.

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By opting-in, reporting and analytics will be improved and will help to safeguard against degradation of data from any other browsers that choose to implement third-party cookie blockers. Further, advertisers also have the ability to opt-out at any time, in which no further cookies would be created and any already established cookies would gradually age out of their 90-day time-to-live (TTL) limit.


Posted by Lauren Lyster

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