Future-Proof Your Website: Understanding and Managing Third-Party Cookies

January 17, 2024

Future-Proof Your Website: Understanding and Managing Third-Party Cookies

As a website owner, grasping the dynamics of cookies in today’s digital space is critical, especially with the evolving status of third-party cookies. Notably, while browsers like Firefox and Safari have long blocked third-party cookies by default, Google Chrome is set to join this practice by the end of 2024. However, there’s no cause for alarm – it’s likely that the majority of cookies on your website are first-party, not third-party. To clarify your website’s status and potential need for adjustments, let’s dive into understanding third-party cookies and how to identify them.

Understanding Third-Party Cookies

Third-party cookies differ from first-party cookies, which are generated by the site the user is visiting. Third-party cookies originate from different domains and are commonly utilized for cross-site tracking, retargeting, and ad-serving.

How to Identify Third-Party Cookies on Your Website

To check if your website employs third-party cookies, consider these methods:

  • Browser Developer Tools: Use these tools to inspect cookies and identify if any come from domains other than your own.
  • Online Scanners: Websites like cookie-script.com offer scanning services that break down your site’s cookie usage into first and third-party categories.
  • Consult Your Agency: If you’re working with a marketing or web development agency, they can provide a comprehensive list of third-party cookies your site uses.

Typical Third-Party Cookie Sources

Third-party cookies are often associated with popular online services, including:

  • Google Analytics: Primarily uses first-party cookies, though this can vary based on setup.
  • Google Tag Manager: Itself doesn’t use cookies, but the tags/scripts it adds might.
  • HubSpot: Utilizes first-party cookies for its analytics features.
  • Facebook Pixel: Employs a mix of first and third-party cookies.

Implications and Preparations for Website Owners

The gradual elimination of third-party cookies by major browsers significantly affects how advertisers track and target online users, necessitating new approaches such as hashed email-based identifiers or strategies centered around first-party data. It’s vital to consult with your software vendors to implement any necessary changes, like new scripts to replace old ones, ensuring your site’s compliance and effectiveness.

Steps to Prepare for the Cookieless Future

As a forward-thinking website owner, consider:

  • Reviewing Cookie Usage: Understand the types of cookies on your site and their purposes.
  • Staying Informed About Vendor Solutions: Keep aware of your third-party services’ plans for a cookieless future and ensure their new solutions are implemented on your site.
  • Exploring First-Party Data Strategies: Focus on gathering and utilizing data from direct customer interactions.
  • Enhancing Privacy Practices: Maintain transparency with your users about how their data is collected and used.
  • Testing New Tools and Vendors: Experiment with various ad servers or analytics tools that are adapting to the absence of third-party cookies.

Embracing a Privacy-Focused Web

Moving away from third-party cookies isn’t just a hurdle; it’s a chance to create a more privacy-conscious online environment. By understanding these changes and adapting accordingly, website owners can ensure their sites stay relevant and compliant. If you’re uncertain about the presence of third-party cookies on your site, don’t hesitate to contact our team for a consultation to outline the best course of action.

Matt Schwartz is an accomplished entrepreneur and technology expert based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the founder and CEO of Inspry, a WordPress and WooCommerce web development and maintenance web agency that has been providing cutting-edge technology solutions to clients since 2011. With over a decade of experience in the industry, Matt has become a respected figure in the web development community and has helped numerous businesses achieve their digital goals.