Understanding the Third Party Cookies Definition: What They are and How They Work

  • Billy Cobb
  • May 09, 2024
Understanding the Third Party Cookies Definition: What They are and How They Work

What are Third Party Cookies?

Have you ever noticed that the ads you see on one website seem to follow you around the internet, showing up on multiple other sites? This is all thanks to third party cookies.

At their core, cookies are small pieces of data that are stored on a user’s computer or device while they browse the internet. These cookies help websites remember things about the user, such as their preferences and login information.

However, third party cookies are a bit different. They are created and stored by a website that the user isn’t directly interacting with. Instead, they are stored by a third party that has inserted code or content (such as an ad) on the original website.

For example, let’s say you visit a popular news site. While you’re there, you see an ad for a new type of headphones. This ad is served by a third party ad network or company. Within that ad is a third party cookie that is stored on your computer.

Now, when you leave that news site and go to another website that also has ads from that same company, the cookie can be accessed and used. This allows the ad company to track your behavior and show you more targeted ads.

While this may seem like a harmless way to serve ads that are more relevant to users, it has also raised concerns about privacy and security.

Some users may not want their behavior and data tracked in this way. Plus, there is always the possibility that these third party cookies could be used for malicious purposes, such as stealing personal information.

As a result, many web browsers now have some level of cookie blocking or tracking prevention built in. Additionally, some websites allow users to opt out of third party cookie tracking entirely. However, this is not universal, so it’s important to be aware of how your data is being used and take steps to protect your privacy online.

How Do Third Party Cookies Work?

When a user visits a website, third party cookies are created and stored by third party domains that provide content or services on the website. These cookies are different from first-party cookies, which are set by the site the user is visiting. Third party cookies allow advertisers and other third party services to track users across multiple websites, gather data about their browsing behavior, and serve targeted ads based on that information.

For example, imagine a user visits a blog that uses Google AdSense to display ads. When the user loads the page, a third-party cookie is created by Google and stored in the user’s browser. If the user then visits another website that also uses Google AdSense, the cookie can be read by that site and used to track the user’s activity across both sites. This allows Google to build a profile of the user’s interests and serve them more relevant ads in the future.

Third party cookies can also be used to collect other types of data, such as user demographics, device information, and browsing history. This data can be sold to advertisers or used to build more detailed profiles of users for targeted marketing purposes.

Many users are unaware of how third party cookies work or the extent to which they are being tracked online. Some browser plugins and extensions can limit third party cookie tracking or block them entirely. However, advertisers and website owners rely on third party cookies to provide personalized content and ads to users, and may push back against efforts to restrict their use.

In recent years, there has been growing concern about the privacy implications of third party cookies and other forms of online tracking. Some countries have implemented laws and regulations to protect user data and require website owners to obtain user consent before using certain types of cookies or tracking technologies.

In summary, third party cookies are created by third party domains that provide content or services on a website, and are used to track users across multiple sites, collect data about their browsing behavior, and serve targeted ads. While they play an important role in online advertising and personalization, their use has raised concerns about user privacy and data protection.

Why Are Third Party Cookies Controversial?

Third party cookies are small text files that are created by websites other than the one that the user is currently visiting. These cookies can be used by third party advertisers and tracking companies to monitor user behavior, activity, and preferences across multiple websites. This type of tracking allows advertisers to create targeted ads that are tailored to individual users, but it also raises concerns about user privacy and data security.

There are two main reasons why third party cookies are controversial:

Third Party Cookies Threaten User Privacy

Third party cookies pose a significant threat to user privacy because they allow advertisers to track a user’s browsing behavior across multiple sites, thereby collecting sensitive personal information without the user’s consent. For example, a third party cookie can track a user’s search history, geographic location, and purchase history, all of which can be used to create targeted ads, but can also reveal a lot of personal information about the user. This is why many users are concerned about the use of third party cookies, especially when they are not adequately informed about how their data is being collected and used.

Third Party Cookies Make Websites Load Slower

Another reason why third party cookies are controversial is that they can slow down a website’s loading time. When a web page loads, it has to download all of the images, scripts, and other content that it needs to display. If a website has too many third party cookies, it can take longer for the page to load because it has to download all of the cookies before it can display the content. This can be frustrating for users who expect websites to load quickly and efficiently.

The Bottom Line

Third party cookies are a controversial topic in the world of online advertising and web development. While they allow advertisers to create targeted ads and improve the user experience, they also raise concerns about user privacy and website loading times. As a user, it’s important to be aware of the ways in which third party cookies are being used, and to take steps to protect your personal information online. As a website owner or developer, it’s important to strike a balance between providing targeted ads and ensuring that your website loads quickly and efficiently for your users.

What is the Future of Third Party Cookies?

Third-party cookies have been an integral part of the digital advertising ecosystem, allowing advertisers to track user behavior across the web and deliver targeted ads. However, major browsers such as Safari, Firefox, and Chrome have been phasing out support for third-party cookies, citing privacy concerns.

Google, which dominates the internet browser market with over 70% market share, announced that it would phase out third-party cookies in Chrome by 2022. This move follows similar actions taken by Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox, which already block third-party cookies by default.

The phasing out of third-party cookies has raised concerns among advertisers and marketers, who rely on cookies to deliver personalized ads and measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. However, it has also been welcomed by privacy advocates and consumers, who are increasingly concerned about online tracking and data privacy.

What are the Alternatives to Third Party Cookies?

As third-party cookies are phased out, advertisers and marketers are exploring alternative approaches to targeting and measuring digital advertising campaigns. One of the alternatives is to rely on first-party data, which is the data collected directly from users who have interacted with a brand or website. First-party data can be used to deliver personalized ads and measure the effectiveness of campaigns, without relying on third-party cookies.

Another alternative is to use contextual targeting, which involves targeting ads based on the content of the website or app being viewed rather than the user’s browsing history or behavior. For example, a sports brand could target ads to users reading articles about sports, even if they have not visited the brand’s website before.

Finally, there is the option of using alternative identifiers, such as email addresses or mobile advertising IDs, to target ads. These identifiers can be used to track user behavior across multiple devices and platforms, without relying on third-party cookies.

What are the Implications for Digital Advertising?

The phasing out of third-party cookies has significant implications for the digital advertising industry. Advertisers will need to adjust their targeting and measurement strategies to adapt to the changing landscape. They will need to rely more on first-party data and contextual targeting, and invest in new technologies and tools to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns.

However, the phasing out of third-party cookies could also lead to a more privacy-conscious and user-friendly internet. By reducing the amount of online tracking and data collection, users may feel more comfortable browsing the web and engaging with digital ads. Advertisers will need to find the right balance between delivering personalized ads and respecting user privacy.


The phasing out of third-party cookies is a significant development in the digital advertising industry. While it presents challenges for advertisers and marketers, it also offers opportunities for innovation and growth. By embracing new technologies and strategies, advertisers can continue to deliver relevant and effective ads to users while respecting their privacy and data rights.

How Can Users Manage Third Party Cookies?

Third party cookies are small files that are stored by websites other than the one the user is currently browsing. These cookies collect information about the user’s browsing behavior and are often used for targeted advertising. While they can be beneficial for advertisers, some users may want to manage or block them entirely due to privacy concerns. Here are some ways users can manage third party cookies:

1. Browser Settings

Most browsers offer the option to manage cookies through the settings menu. Users can usually find the cookie settings by clicking on the browser’s “Settings” or “Preferences” menu. From there, users can choose to block third party cookies entirely or selectively for certain websites. However, blocking third party cookies may impact the user’s browsing experience, as some websites may rely on them for functionality.

2. Browser Extensions

There are also browser extensions and add-ons that can help users manage cookies. Some popular options include AdBlock Plus, Ghostery, and Privacy Badger. These extensions can block third party cookies, as well as other forms of online tracking, such as web beacons and scripts.

3. Incognito Mode

Most browsers also offer an “incognito” or “private” mode, which prevents the browser from storing cookies or browsing history. While this may not necessarily block third party cookies, it can prevent them from being associated with the user’s account or profile, as they are not stored in the user’s browser cache.

4. Clearing Cookies

Users can also choose to clear their cookies on a regular basis to remove any third party cookies that have been stored. Most browsers allow users to clear their cookies through the browser settings or history menu. However, users should be aware that clearing cookies will also remove any saved login credentials or preferences for websites they have previously visited.

5. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

For users who are particularly concerned about online privacy, using a virtual private network (VPN) can help prevent third party cookies and other forms of online tracking. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between the user’s device and the internet, which makes it more difficult for advertisers and other third parties to track the user’s online activities. Additionally, some VPNs offer options to block cookies and other online tracking features.

Overall, users have several options when it comes to managing third party cookies. While they can be useful for advertisers and website functionality, some users may want to limit or block them entirely to protect their online privacy. By using browser settings, extensions, incognito mode, clearing cookies, or virtual private networks, users can take more control over their online browsing experience.

Originally posted 2023-06-03 19:53:29.

Related Post :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *