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Developer’s Guide to Third-Party Cookies

third-party cookies

Personalization is a critical part of a memorable user journey on a website. Most websites dedicate a significant amount of resources to ensuring the users that visit the website have a personalized user journey and experience.

Doing so promises repeat visits and, perhaps more importantly, helps create a website design that guarantees consistent traffic of users.

For the uninitiated, cookies make the personalization of user journeys on a website possible. These cookies can do so by collecting essential bits of information on the user based on their browsing habits. The result is a user experience designed for each user visiting the site based on their unique browsing habits.

Third-party cookies are one of the most frequently used cookies on the internet. Hence, it makes sense for developers tasked with ensuring a personalized user experience for visitors on the website to know precisely what third-party cookies are and what they mean for the privacy obligations of a website. There are various types of cookies, each with its distinct purpose, benefits, and pitfalls.

Why Are Third-Party Cookies So Important?

Third-party cookies are essential in the digital space as they allow businesses and websites to be visible to prospective customers even when they’re not on their websites. These cookies work by embedding JavaScript across various websites. As a result, the more the user browses the internet, the more data third-party cookies can collect. As a result, based on a user’s search history and browsing patterns, they may continue to see targeted ads.

Even if a user ends their browsing session and exits their website browser, the third-party cookie will continue tracking them once they start a new session since these cookies are stored on a user’s device itself.

This is primarily why users may see familiar ads on websites they’re visiting for the first time. And that is where the conundrum for developers arises.

These cookies do a highly effective job of ensuring users are consistently shown ads with high conversion prospects. However, this comes at the cost of a user’s data being consistently harvested and privacy violations.

Third-Party Cookies and Privacy

Cookies, especially third-party cookies, can significantly threaten privacy if not appropriately managed. As mentioned, most websites have a Google resource JavaScript embedded in them, with Google continuously adding to its already burgeoning pool of web users’ cross-site activity. Google then uses this information to display targeted ads based on third-party cookies that have become intimidatingly personalized based on how much data is collected.

This means that, effectively once a user searches for something, they will likely continue to see related ads regardless of which sites they visit.

Fortunately, all is not lost yet. Thanks to a combination of regulations and privacy products, these cookies can be appropriately managed without compromising the users’ overall experience on a site.

The Securiti privacy center is a consolidated resource that contains all the relevant information and mechanisms related to privacy on a website, including the website’s cookie policy.

Such a product allows developers to easily track and classify third-party cookies on a website for accurate consent notifications. Additionally, developers can block out third-party and non-essential cookies altogether without additional coding.

The Future of Cookies

The concerns surrounding the privacy implications of third-party cookies are not new. Google, considered by many to be the primary reason why the use of third-party cookies has proliferated, announced back in January 2020 that it would be phasing out support for all third-party cookies on its Google Chrome platform by 2023.

This comes as part of Google’s renewed initiative on enhancing their users’ privacy online in addition to an enriched browsing experience titled “Privacy Sandbox.” This comes after the other major web browsers, Apple’s Safari and Mozilla Firefox, had begun phasing out third-party cookies on their own platforms.

However, Google is not entirely giving up on tracking users across various sites. It announced Federated Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) as a replacement for third-party cookies that would track a group of people rather than individuals.

For developers, this will mean adopting a different approach to tracking the behavior of their potential customers across the web and implementing necessary changes to the websites that reflect the insights gained from such tracking.

While third-party cookies may soon become a thing of the past, developers must be aware and well-versed in whatever will replace third-party cookies if they are to continue designing websites that consistently draw users and create a memorable browsing experience.

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