In the simplest terms, a cookie is a small text file. It contains a website domain along with coded letters and numbers. These letters and numbers are coded for something else such as a segment of the audience with particular characteristics. For example, such a segment can be of 20- to 25-year-old girls with similar interests.
Furthermore, there are two major types of cookies – first-party and third-party cookies. Both types of cookies track audiences but they aren’t the same. You can collect and use both types in different ways. Don’t worry, we are going to make it crystal clear for you to understand cookies and what is their future.
Whenever a user visits a website, first-party cookies are directly stored by that website. They perform functions like keeping users logged in, remembering items in their carts, remembering language settings, and other similar functions. It is also important to note that first-party cookies never phase-out.
These functions empower brands to maximize user experience.
Third-party cookies perform a bigger function – they identify users from across different websites. They aren’t created by websites users visit. Instead, they are often created by domains and a script or tag is used to place them on a website. Moreover, all websites that load third-party server code can access these cookies. This type of cookie is used to track behaviors or retarget audiences. However, they phase out, unlike first-party cookies.
Both first and third-party cookies have the same kind of files. So what are the differences between first and third-party cookies? The differences arise because of how they are created and used.
- The host domain creates first-party cookies and they work only on that one domain. Conversely, third-party servers load third-party cookies for tracking behavior and online advertising.
- All browsers support first-party cookies whereas that isn’t the case with third-party cookies. They are no longer supported by all browsers and they will remain the same in the future.
As we already know, only a few browsers support third-party cookies and are being killed by browsers such as Safari and Firefox. That means, they are on their way out but not as quickly as predicted. Google also has decided to delay the plan – to depreciate third-party cookies by 2022 – for two years.
Most marketers aren’t happy about the depreciation of third-party cookies. In fact, they aren’t ready for the shift. However, it is bound to happen and it will happen. Giants like Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc. are going to get more powerful because of this shift. They will have data to know what users do and what are their interests.
So, what does third-party cookie depreciation mean for brands? Brands are seeing it as a huge problem. Why so? Because cross-website behavioral tracking isn’t possible without third-party cookies. Therefore, brands may well find publishers’ and inventories very less valuable. That is because brands can never know what visitors have been doing or looking at when all web traffic becomes untargeted.
How will brands cope with this? Perhaps, they need to figure out pretty quickly how to supplement data lost as well as revenue because of third-party cookies’ depreciation. An authentic traffic solution (ATS) is a possible alternative. It involves encouraging visitors to authenticate with the ATS that publishers can link to identity graphs.
So, the future is unclear what publishers will do once third-party cookies will not be there anymore. Therefore, the situation is uncertain as well as scary for publishers across the internet. Let’s wait and see what the future has in store for us.