23 Apr 2024

First and Third-Party Cookies in Marketing and Tracking

Understanding First and Third-Party Cookies in Marketing and Tracking

The world of digital marketing relies on accurate data collection and analysis to create effective, targeted campaigns. A key aspect is the use of cookies. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between first and third-party cookies and how they impact marketing and tracking.

Introduction to Cookies

A definition: What are cookies?

Cookies are small text files that websites store on your computer or mobile device when you visit them. They contain information that can be accessed by the web server, allowing websites to remember your preferences, login details, and other data that helps improve your browsing experience. Cookies can be categorized as either first-party cookies (used in our Call Tracking solution) or third-party cookies, depending on their origin and purpose.

The role of cookies in digital marketing

In digital marketing, cookies play a crucial role in understanding user behavior and preferences. They enable marketers to track user interactions on websites, gather valuable data on customer behavior, and create personalized experiences based on the data collected. Cookies also allow marketers to serve targeted ads, analyze campaign performance, and optimize marketing strategies for better results.

First-Party Cookies

Definition and purpose of first-party cookies

First-party cookies are created and stored by the website you’re visiting. They are primarily used to remember your preferences, track your session, and save your login information. This ensures that your experience on the site is seamless and personalized.
In digital marketing, first-party cookies are essential for understanding user behavior on a specific website. They help marketers gather data on how users interact with the site, which pages they visit, and how long they spend on each page. This information can be used to optimize website content, improve user experience, and tailor marketing campaigns to better target specific audiences.

Advantages of using first-party cookies

There are several advantages to using first-party cookies in digital marketing:


  • Enhanced user experience: By remembering user preferences and login information, first-party cookies enable a more personalized and seamless browsing experience for users.
  • Accurate tracking: First-party cookies provide more reliable and accurate data on user behavior, as they are not affected by third-party cookie restrictions and tracking prevention mechanisms implemented by browsers.
  • Privacy compliance: First-party cookies are generally considered more privacy-friendly, as they are limited to the website you’re visiting and do not track your behavior across multiple websites.
  • Lower risk of being blocked: First-party cookies are less likely to be blocked by browsers and ad-blockers, as they are essential for basic website functionality and user experience.

Examples of first-party cookie applications

Here are some common use cases for first-party cookies in digital marketing:

  • Remembering user preferences: First-party cookies can store information such as language settings, display preferences, and layout configurations to ensure a consistent user experience.
  • User authentication: Storing login information and maintaining user sessions allow site visitors to access restricted content or features without having to re-enter their login credentials.
  • Shopping cart functionality: E-commerce websites use first-party cookies to store items added to the shopping cart, enabling users to continue browsing and add or remove items without losing their selections.
  • Analytics: First-party cookies help track user interactions and behavior on a website, providing valuable data for marketers to optimize content and campaigns.

In total, first-party cookies are a vital component of digital marketing, as they enable personalized user experiences, accurate tracking, and valuable insights into user behavior. Understanding the difference between first and third-party cookies is essential for creating effective marketing strategies and ensuring compliance with privacy regulations.

In digital marketing, first-party cookies are important for understanding user behaviour on a particular website. They help marketers collect data on how users interact with the website, which pages they visit and how long they stay on each page.

Third-Party Cookies

Definition and purpose of third-party cookies

Third-party cookies are created and stored by domains other than the website you’re visiting. These cookies are typically used by advertisers, marketing agencies, and other third-party services to track user behavior across multiple websites. The data collected by third-party cookies helps marketers create more targeted advertising campaigns, monitor the performance of these campaigns, and optimize their marketing strategies based on user interests and preferences.

Advantages and drawbacks of using third-party cookies

There are several advantages to using third-party cookies in digital marketing:

  • Cross-site tracking: Third-party cookies enable marketers to track user behavior across multiple websites, providing a more comprehensive view of their interests and preferences.
  • Targeted advertising: By understanding user behavior across multiple sites, marketers can serve more relevant ads, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversion.
  • Campaign performance analysis: Third-party cookies help measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, allowing marketers to optimize their strategies and allocate resources more efficiently.

However, there are also drawbacks to using third-party cookies:


  • Privacy concerns: The use of third-party cookies to track user behavior across multiple websites raises privacy concerns and has led to increased scrutiny and regulation.
  • Browser restrictions: Many browsers, including Safari and Firefox, have implemented tracking prevention mechanisms that block or limit third-party cookies, reducing their effectiveness.
  • Ad-blocker interference: Ad-blockers often prevent the use of third-party cookies, further limiting their applications in tracking and marketing campaigns.

Examples of third-party cookie applications

Some common use cases for third-party cookies in digital marketing include:


  • Cross-site ad targeting: Serving relevant ads to users based on their browsing history and interests across multiple websites.
  • Conversion tracking: Measuring the effectiveness of marketing campaigns by tracking user interactions, such as clicks and conversions, across different sites.
  • Retargeting: Displaying ads to users who have previously visited a website or interacted with a specific product or service, encouraging them to re-engage and potentially convert.
  • Behavioral profiling: Creating user profiles based on browsing behavior to enable more personalized and targeted advertising.

Comparing First and Third-Party Cookies

Key differences between first and third-party cookies

The primary difference between first and third-party cookies lies in their origin and purpose. First-party cookies are created by the website you’re visiting and are used to enhance user experience and track behavior on that specific site. In contrast, third-party cookies are created by third-party services, such as advertisers, and are used to track user behavior across multiple websites for targeted advertising and campaign analysis.

    Privacy concerns and browser restrictions

    In recent years, privacy concerns surrounding third-party cookies have led to increased regulation and browser restrictions. Many browsers, such as Safari and Firefox, have implemented tracking prevention mechanisms that block or limit third-party cookies. This has prompted marketers to explore alternative methods of tracking and targeting users, such as facilitating first-party data and leveraging cookie-less tracking technologies.

      Adapting to a cookie-less future in digital marketing

      As third-party cookies become less reliable due to privacy concerns and browser restrictions, marketers must adapt their strategies to a cookie-less future. This may involve leveraging first-party data, investing in alternative tracking technologies, and exploring new ways to personalize and target advertising campaigns.

        First-Party Cookies and GDPR: Navigating Consent Management on Websites and Cookie Banners

        First-Party Cookies and the GDPR

        The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive, also known as the Cookie Law, work together to regulate the use of cookies and ensure user privacy. The Cookie Law has not been repealed by the GDPR and is still applicable. It requires users’ informed consent before storing or accessing information on their devices. This includes first-party cookies used by websites and other technologies that store or access information on users’ devices, such as pixel tags and unique identifiers.

          The matelso Call Tracking solution was developed with data protection in mind and only uses first-party cookies. Likewise, the matelso platform also only uses first-party cookies.

          Requirements of the Cookie Law

          The Cookie Law mandates that websites inform users about the use of cookies, explain how cookies work and their purpose, and obtain informed consent before storing cookies on users’ devices. In practice, this means that websites must display a cookie banner upon the user’s first visit, implement a cookie policy, and allow users to provide consent – or deny it. Prior to obtaining consent, no cookies (except exempt ones) should be installed or run.

            First-Party Cookies and Consent Management on Websites

            As part of the consent management, websites must provide clear and comprehensive information about the types, usage, and purpose of introduced cookies, including first-party cookies. Websites are not required to list cookies one by one, but they must state their type and purpose. Consent to cookies must be freely given – specific, informed, and based on an explicit affirmative action.

              GDPR and First-Party Cookies in Cookie Banners

              Websites using first-party cookies must display a cookie banner upon the user’s first visit, allowing them to provide consent. This banner should be visible and informative, explaining the types of integrated cookies and their purpose. In addition to the banner, websites must also provide a link to their cookie policy, ensuring users can access more detailed information about the cookies in use.

                First-Party Cookies and Exemptions

                Some cookies are exempt from the consent requirement, such as those used for essential website functions like authentication and maintaining user session state. These cookies are often first-party cookies and can be used without obtaining explicit consent from the user. However, it is crucial to ensure that any exempt cookies are indeed necessary for the website’s basic functionality.

                  Consent Records and First-Party Cookies

                  While the Cookie Law does not explicitly require keeping records of consent, the GDPR mandates it when cookies process personal data. As first-party cookies often process personal data, it is important to maintain records of user consent in compliance with GDPR requirements.

                  By understanding the relationship between the GDPR and the ePrivacy Directive, as well as the requirements for consent management and cookie banners, businesses can ensure their use of first-party cookies aligns with privacy regulations and provides a transparent experience for users.

                    matelso’s Commitment to First-Party Cookies for Call Tracking and communication based lead management

                    matelso’s use of first-party cookies in Call Tracking

                    The matelso Call Tracking solution is designed with privacy in mind and exclusively uses first-party cookies. These cookies help to identify user interactions and their origin, enabling marketers to measure the performance of their marketing campaigns. By using first-party cookies, matelso ensures that the data collected is secure and not shared with external parties, giving businesses a reliable way to optimize their advertising strategies while respecting user privacy.

                      matelso platform for communication based lead management

                      In addition to Call Tracking, the matelso platform for communication based lead management also utilizes first-party cookies to provide an enhanced user experience. By doing so, the platform can efficiently analyze user interactions and facilitate a seamless customer journey. This aids in identifying high-quality leads, allowing marketers to focus on nurturing these potential customers and increasing conversion rates. With a strong commitment to privacy, matelso helps businesses thrive in a digital landscape with changing privacy regulations. The big difference to theCall Tracking product in regards to the usage of cookies is, that the matelso platform can be used to communicate without tracking or marketing functionalities

                        Trusting matelso for a secure and compliant marketing approach

                        By using only first-party cookies in the Call Tracking and communication based lead management solutions, matelso demonstrates its commitment to user privacy and data protection. This approach allows businesses to stay ahead of privacy regulations while maintaining effective marketing strategies. By partnering with matelso, B2B companies and SMBs can be confident that their marketing efforts are compliant and future-proof, enabling them to focus on what matters most – growing their businesses.

                          Apr 23, 2024

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