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Third Party Cookies are being blocked – What you need to know

  • icons02 November, 2021
  • iconsVenish Patel

The internet is continuously changing, and these developments are occurring faster than ever before, particularly in terms of consumer privacy and data. Every sector and consumer today understands the significance of digital channels and experiences. You have no idea who is visiting your website until you have data.

When you visit nearly any website for the first time these days, you will be greeted with cookies or privacy-related popups. And the majority of users unintentionally try to delete it by clicking the close or accept buttons. So, in order to understand those notifications, let’s first understand cookies; we’re not talking about edible cookies here; we are referring to internet/HTTP cookies.

When you visit a website, the web server or website creates data that is stored in the user’s browser as cookies. This information is useful and occasionally required to improve the user experience while visiting a website. Retailers, for example, retain your shopping cart items, video streaming services store your interests based on your past searches, and others remember your login state. Cookies are unique to each device and browser. So, in the internet world, a single person with several devices is a different user. Cookies are, at their most basic level, information about your browsing behaviors and preferences. And there are primarily two types of cookies dependent on how this data is produced and processed:

What are First Party Cookies

First party cookies are set by the current domain you are on. Essentially, it enhances the site’s user experience by saving important data in the browser. Such as remembering your payment method for the next checkout, storing your username, and so on, so that we don’t have to enter that information again when we return to the website; it will be stored in cookies.

What are Third Party Cookies

Third party cookies are placed by domains/websites other than the one you’re on, such as ad servers. They are mostly used for advertising reasons, gathering user personal information (location, gender, age) as well as their online behaviors (online interests, recent purchases, websites visited, time spent on each web page, and so on). The server that added the cookie to the browser has access to third party cookies. Advertisers can follow users across several websites on the browser by adding tags or scripts to the page. Cross-site tracking is enabled via third-party cookies, which may originate from a single domain yet collect data from other domains.

Are third-party cookies safe?

Cookies, in general, are used to improve the user’s experience while visiting a website. However, there are two sides to the coin when it comes to third-party cookies. Third party cookies have no effect on the device’s security, so we can say they’re safe; nonetheless, their misuse can compromise a user’s privacy. Now that we know that our web actions can be followed through third party cookies, legislation such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), and others have been enacted in response to the exploitation of this trackable data by some organizations. GDPR requires businesses and websites to obtain user consent before collecting data. Users can ask firms what data they hold, request that it not be sold, or have it deleted under the CCPA. These regulations do not prohibit firms from collecting data via third party cookies; rather, they provide users more control over what data is gathered. As a result, these rules aid in achieving a balance between user privacy and identification.

Why are third party cookies being blocked?

Over the previous few years, data privacy has remained a hot topic in the digital world. According to various studies, over 70% of consumers are concerned about how businesses use the information they acquire from them. Consumers have little control over how and what data about them is shared when cookies are used. Digital privacy is becoming increasingly crucial, and the two main forces driving this trend are consumer preferences and government policies.

Third party cookies aren’t common, and they’re also not completely transparent. Third party cookies are not even supported by popular marketing channels such as in-app or connected TV. Cookies don’t truly represent people; they represent devices that are linked to a single browser. There is a lot of duplication and unnecessary ad impressions as a result of this.

As a result, one of the most significant transformations in digital advertising is set to occur. Third party cookies are far from the only method used today to track users throughout the internet. As a result, when third party cookies are finally blocked, advertisers may not see a drop in business results. Ad-tech companies have devised several other methods for continuing to uniquely identify users without the usage of cookies.

Alternatives to third party cookies for advertising:

First Party Cookie:

Third party cookies are being phased out, but the cookie itself will remain. As a result, first party cookies, which likewise save information about user activity, can be used as an alternative. However, the issue with first party cookies is that they do not aid in cross-site tracking. Unification of first party cookie data could be one approach. If an advertising platform wishes to monitor customers across many websites, it must first obtain data from the website owner. Unified ID is a service provided by companies like TradeDesk that standardizes cookie synchronization across different platforms.

Another option is for advertisers to deal directly with each website publisher, where publishers acquire data about users through the first party and then serve ads from their advertising partners based on that data.

Contextual advertising:

Contextual advertising is an idea that has been around for a long time. We see advertising next to pertinent non-ad material on the page using this strategy. It means that advertisements are targeted based on the content of the page. If you’re reading an article about exercise, you could notice advertisements for exercise equipment on the page. Despite the fact that this strategy has nothing to do with the user’s data, relevant adverts can still be targeted to them, which is far from a privacy concern. In the post-cookie world, this may be a simpler, cleaner, and more inexpensive option.

Device Fingerprinting:

By simply gathering information about your device, you could be uniquely recognized. A digital fingerprint can be created for each user by combining a number of factors about their device or browser, such as the device’s operating system and version, the browser’s name and version, apps, plugins, location, IP address, screen resolution, fonts, time zones, and so on.

If a user’s browser has blocked third-party cookies, and you, as the website owner, need those third-party cookies enabled, you must inform the user to unblock them. So, how can we tell whether or not a user has disabled the third-party cookie? If it’s disabled, notify the user and give them instructions on how to enable it.

How can we detect the blocking of third party cookies in javascript?

Using a javascript message event listener and an iframe is a simple approach. You need to use two scripts on different domains. One will place a cookie on the browser, while the other will notify you whether or not third party cookies are enabled.

setCookie.js
 
<script>

  if(!window.parent) return;

  if('allow_third_party_cookie=yes'.test(document.cookie)) {

    window.parent.postMessage("allow_third_party_cookie", '*');

  }

  else {

    window.parent.postMessage("do_not_allow_third_party_cookie", '*');

  }
  document.cookie = "allow_third_party_cookie=; expires=Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:01 GMT;";

</script>

Alert the user to allow the third party cookie

We can retrieve a message from the iframe using a message event listener, and based on that message, we can determine if the user has blocked the party cookies or not.

alertUser.html
 
<body>
  
  <script>

    const receiveMessage = (event) => {

      if(event.data === 'allow_third_party_cookie') {

        alert('Third party cookies are not blocked.');

        return;

      }

      alert('Third party cookies are blocked. Please read next article to allow the third-party cookie.');

      window.open('https://akohubteam.medium.com/how-to-enable-third-party-cookies-on-your-browsers-f9a8143b8cc5');

    }

    window.addEventListener('message', receiveMessage, false);

  </script>
 
  <iframe src="your-wesbite/set-cookie.html" style="display:none" />

There’s no need to worry if third-party cookies are being blocked. The most important thing to do now is strategize a solution that will allow you to maintain your digital marketing efficiency once third-party cookies are blocked. Want to start thinking about how you’ll design your efforts in the post-cookie era? We can help you strategize your digital marketing journey for the post third party cookies era. Connect with us!

About Initialyze

Founded in 2015 in San Francisco, Initialyze specializes in providing software solutions and services to help the world’s leading brands deliver transformation digital brand experiences. Our expertise includes Digital Strategy, Technology Implementation, Analytics, and Marketing. We strive to form strong partnerships with our clients to envision, design, and build innovative digital experiences efficiently and simply. Using an optimized implementation process and a suite of ready to use Initialyzers, we deliver on complex requirements quickly and cost effectively without sacrificing on quality.

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