Facebook Announces 1st Party Cookies - What Does this Mean for Facebook Advertisers?

Facebook advertiser’s today got an unusual email from the Mothership.

“Important Pixel Update”

This automatically tends to send shivers down most FB ads people’s backs, as important update these days usually means “we’re taking stuff away.”

Not this time though! This is - tentatively - good news for Facebook advertisers. Facebook has announced that they are rolling out 1st party cookies as part of the Facebook pixel. This is a direct response to Apple and Firefox recently beginning to block 3rd party cookies.

delete cookies.jpg

To understand how this counter move works, it’s important to understand the different between a 3rd party and a 1st party cookie.

At a very high level, 1st party cookie is a cookie that is left by the site you are actually on. A 3rd party cookie is a cookie left by a different site.

Here's an example - I go to an e-commerce site like target.com. There are a number of different cookies that get placed on my browser.

For example, if i left something in my shopping cart, a cookie like cart.status.target.com tells target i am the guy that left all that stuff in my cart. This is a first party cookie, because i am on target.com and the domain of the cookie is also target.com

Since the Facebook pixel is on the site, Facebook also places a cookie on my browser. That cookie might look something like pageview.uid.facebook.com or something similar.

Since I am on the target.com domain, and the pixel above is from the facebook.com domain this is a 3rd party cookie.

So, when Apple and Firefox and ad blockers say they are blocking 3rd party cookies, these are the kind of cookies they are blocking. These cookies power everything from re-targeting site visitors to Lookalike audiences to conversion tracking. They are an absolute need for Facebook ads to work as well as they do.


You can’t block 1st party cookies. It would mean every time you want to check your email you’d have to re-log in. An e-commerce site would not remember what’s in your shopping cart. 1st party cookies have become a necessary convenience for the modern user. Blocking them would cause outrage.

So, this is the Facebook counter-move - to adopt 1st party cookies to track what was previously tracked via 3rd party cookies.

So, what does this mean exactly? At face value it means Facebook will start placing cookies that look like they are coming from the site they are on, but still pass data back to Facebook. They will be 1st party cookies, but will still provide the same functionality as their 3rd party cookies.

Theoretically. It’s very hard to tell exactly how this will be done, what it will look like, and how it changes the Facebook advertising ecosystem. Tentatively this looks like good news for Facebook advertisers, as we will be able to track in some way people who were previously untrackable on Safari, Firefox and ad blockers.

But how effective it will be, how much it will be adopted, and what changes to the nature of the data being passed there will be are all TBD.

So it’s not bad news, for sure. But is it good news? Probably. Maybe. We’ll see.

Stay tuned!

Have an established fashion/apparel business ($10k+ sales/month) and want results like these?  Book a call and let’s talk - Black Friday and the holiday season is just around the corner, now is the time to be getting a productive ad program in place!