First-Party vs Third-Party Cookies – How Are They Different?

First Party vs Third Party Cookies

Whenever you enter a website, a notification pops up: do you consent to storing cookies? This proves how cookies became an inseparable element of the digital world, something that the internet wouldn’t be the same without. But did you know that there are different types of them? If not, read this article – we focus here on first-party vs. third-party cookies and how they differ from each other.

What Are First-Party Cookies?

As they say, first things first, so let’s take a look at…first-party cookies first (phew, that was a lot of “firsts”). These are the files set up by the website you visit to help you navigate through it more easily.

What Are First Party Cookie

First-party cookies have a lot of purposes within a website and are responsible for many functions that we love or that we don’t even spot unless they disappear. What are the purposes for them in particular?

Let’s take a look:

  • User Authentication – First-party cookies enable websites to remember your login status (yes, the “stay logged in” option) but also to identify you for different purposes, such as daily limits. An example of this can be observed in DeepL – a free machine translation engine that has a weekly limit stored in first-party cookies.
  • Session Management – These cookies also track your road through a website during one session, increasing page loading speed and maintaining your cart contents when you’re not logged in.
  • Personalization – All the personalization options that you enter on a website (where you’re not logged in) are stored in…right, first-party cookies. This way, you don’t need to set up an account for every site where personalization is possible.
  • Security – The discussion on first-party vs. third-party cookies wouldn’t be complete without mentioning security, which the former help with.

What Are Third-Party Cookies?

Third-party cookies, on the other hand, are those set up by one website on another website, meaning that they are stored and read even though you didn’t enter their source domain. This, on the other hand, creates potential vulnerabilities. Thus, the support for third-party cookies is being slowly phased out by major browsers.

What Are Third Party Cookies

What can third-party cookies be used for? Let’s take a look:

  • Ad Targeting – The main use of these cookies is for creating personalized, targeted ads that reach the particular groups of interests of the advertisers. This is possible as third-party cookies collect data on your online behavior, including browsing habits.
  • Analytics – Website owners also use third-party cookies for analytic purposes. With them, it is possible to localize potential bottlenecks in the webpage and improve the content, as they serve as the source of information for your behavior on particular pages.
  • Social Media Integration – All the social media functions are seamlessly woven into the websites you visit – that’s also done with third-party cookies.

First-Party vs. Third-Party Cookies Summed Up

So, let’s summarize our discussion on first-party vs. third-party cookies. The former are collected by the websites you visit and used to enhance your experience when on the given page. The latter are used to gather data on your online behavior and to implement third-party elements into websites. But, with the rising concerns about them, they will soon become a symbol of the past.