As of October 24, 2018, Facebook will offer advertisers and publishers the option to use first-party cookies for their Meta tracking pixels, thereby avoiding the need to rely on third-party cookies.
This move by Facebook aligns it more closely with other online platforms as well as many of the major web browsers, which have implemented similar functionality, and reflects a growing trend towards enhanced online privacy and data security.
With topics such as the recent Google+ data breach and the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal increasingly appearing in the news, consumers are becoming more knowledgeable -- and skeptical -- regarding how their information is being tracked and used when browsing the web, especially regarding cookies.
If you are a customer of Facebook advertising, or actively manage your company’s Facebook advertising portal, you most likely saw a recent email regarding the use of your Meta pixel and its cookie tracking ability.
Here is the email I received:
This email was slightly vague and can be confusing to some (I know it was for me), but after digging into this a little more, it was clear why Facebook made this big update to its cookie tracking.
What’s Changed With Facebook’s Cookie Tracking?
In short, Facebook will now allow you to implement first-party cookie tracking through your pixel.
What does this mean?
Previously, this tracking pixel (a tiny image that is embedded into your site and loads when a user visits, thereby allowing you to track that visitor and acquire data you can use for marketing or advertising purposes) was a third-party cookie.
This type of cookie is placed on a user's hard drive by a website from a domain other than the one that a user is visiting.
Because of their vulnerabilities and the potential for misuse by third-party data aggregators, third-party cookies are often blocked and/or deleted either through browser settings or by adblockers, making them less effective for advertisers.
This change by Facebook was a direct response to this concern, as well as moves by popular browsers such as Safari and Firefox to block third-party pixels with the goal of safeguarding user data.
What Does This Change Mean For You?
For marketers and advertisers, this change by Facebook is great news as it will allow you to capture data even from users using AdBlock browser extensions -- as long as those users opt in to your first-party pixel.
Once they have opted in, the data generated by these users will be something that you as the marketer/advertiser have full ownership and control of.
While this change does mean you will need to get your website users to opt in to cookie tracking, it is a step in the right direction of introducing an enhanced level of transparency - something that should, if done properly, build increased trust between consumers and brands.
What Happens Next?
Marketers will not be required to enable first-party cookies, but for companies that plan to continue using Facebook Advertising, doing so is essential for campaign optimization and measurement.
While you have until October 24th to update your settings, we recommend doing so now so there is plenty of time to work out any kinks before Facebook makes this change.
If you are a Facebook user, you can adjust how Facebook is targeting you and the Ads that marketers are displaying.
This article will help make sure your privacy settings are up to date and what information you want to share.
Better data and safer data -- It’s a win-win for everyone.