What is a First-Party Cookie?
Last Updated: September 17, 2021
First-party cookies are directly stored by the website (or domain) you visit. These cookies allow website owners to collect analytics data, remember language settings, and perform other useful functions that provide a good user experience. The domain host can see the data that the cookie retrieves. First-party cookies can’t usually be used to track a user’s activity on another site other than the original website it was placed on. These types of cookies include things such as your sign-on credentials, items you put in the shopping cart, or your preferred language.
First-Party Cookie Example
An example of a first-party cookie is when a user signs into an eCommerce website, like Amazon. The web browser will send a request in a process that provides the highest level of trust that the user is directly interacting with Amazon. The web browser saves this data file to the user’s computer, under the “amazon.com” domain. If first-party cookies were blocked, a user would have to sign in every time they visited, and they wouldn’t be able to purchase multiple items while shopping online because the cart would reset after every item that was added.
Differences Between First- and Third-Party Cookies
First and third-party cookies are both to track user behavior. They have similar purposes but are collected and used in different ways.
The main differences between first and third-party cookies include:
- Cookie availability: First-party cookies are available to the domain that created it. A third-party cookie is accessible on any website that loads the third-party server’s code.
- Browser support/blocking: First-party cookies are supported by all browsers and can be blocked or deleted by the user. Third-party cookies are supported by all browsers, but many are blocking the creation of third-party cookies by default. Users are also taking matters into their own hands and deleting third-party cookies on their own.
Importance of First-Party Data in a Cookieless World
First-party data is valued to be the best option for websites and advertisers. It offers the best return on investment in terms of who your audience is and what their habits are.
First-party data allows you to gauge customer intent and position in the buying journey. By identifying what your audiences are interested in, you can personalize their experiences by suggesting products and content your customers want to see.
Customers shop across multiple channels and multiple devices so it’s important to maintain visibility into the channels driving results and the ones that need optimizing. Because first-party data is collected from a range of sources, websites can still get varied and abundant insight into their omnichannel performance.