Facebook began offering businesses a first-party cookie option with the Facebook pixel. Here’s everything that you need to know.
The Quick Take
Starting on October 24th, Facebook began offering businesses a first-party cookie option with the Facebook pixel. As with other online platforms, the use of first-party cookies for ads and site analytics is fast becoming the preferred approach by most browsers.
Previously, the Facebook pixel was powered by third-party cookies for website analytics, ad targeting, and ad measurement. This new option helps advertisers to get more accurate analytics about traffic to their websites.
1ST PARTY VS. 3RD PARTY COOKIES
Some browsers will block cookies unless a cookie is using a subdomain of the site’s primary domain. For example, if a user visits a page, abacus.agency/troubles-in-ad-land/and a cookie is written by abacus.agency, then this cookie is considered a first-party cookie.
And when the cookie is written by another company, with another domain, using code on the page, for example, facebook.com, then this is considered a third-party cookie. First-party cookies are more widely accepted cookies by browsers and store for longer.
The options for using cookies with your Facebook pixel are:
Using the Facebook pixel with both first and third-party cookies
As of October 24th, 2018, this is the default option for Facebook pixels. Using this option, you will use first-party cookie data with your Facebook pixel, in addition to third-party cookie data. This is the recommended option if you use your Facebook pixel for advertising, as utilizing both first and third-party cookies will allow you to reach a bigger audience on Facebook and to be more precise in measurement and reporting.
Using the Facebook pixel with third-party cookies only
This option involves disabling first-party cookies and using the Facebook pixel with third-party cookies only. This option causes your Facebook pixel to become less effective in reaching customers on Facebook and less accurate in measurement and reporting.
New Facebook Pixel Timeline Roll Out
October 5th – All account admins who own a pixel received an automated email alerting them of this upcoming change.
October 5 – October 24:
Newly created pixels began to see the new pixel settings and are now able to leverage first-party cookies. All admins of accounts that already have the pixel will have the ability to change their settings.
October 24: Facebook began reading/writing to a first-party cookie set on each business’s domain that have not chosen to disable the first-party cookie functionality.
Note: Pixel settings can be changed by the pixel owners account admin at any time.
So How Does the Facebook Pixel Work?
When a user clicks on an advertiser’s FB content (e.g,, an ad or FB Page Post) the landing page URL will contain a unique string. If any pixels on the site a user lands on are opted into sharing first-party cookie data with Facebook, the URL parameter is written into the user’s browser as a first-party cookie. The advertiser’s opted in pixel(s) then includes the 1st party cookie with all events it sends to Facebook.
How to Access Your First Party Cookie Settings
First party cookie settings are located in the Settings tab in Events Manager at the pixel level (under the Measure and Report section of Ads Manager ).
Here users will see a setting at the pixel level that allows the business/advertiser to choose whether to use first-party cookies with Facebook.
Users can sign into the Events Manager and edit their cookie settings under the detail button of a pixel.
Advertisers now have access to first- and third-party cookies within the Facebook Pixel.
Deciding How to Use Your Facebook pixel
Advertising and Analytics
This is the way you’ve already been using the Facebook pixel up until now. Moving forward, by choosing this option you’ll be able to continue using advertising features such as
-Targeting and optimization
Facebook Pixels that are associated with an ad account MUST use the Advertising and Analytics option.
You can opt to use your pixel for analytics purposes only. This is the only option you will see if your pixel is not associated with an ad account. You still can access Facebook Analytics data to monitor site analytics, but you won’t be able to create audiences or campaigns.
If later on, you choose to associate your pixel with an FB ad account, it will convert to the Advertising and Analytics option.
You won’t need to Get Your IT Department or Your Developer Involved
Your developer or IT specialist will not need to do anything when the change takes effect. As of October 24th, your pixels began to write first-party cookies without any updates to the Facebook pixel code. If you choose not to use the Facebook first-party cookie, you can disable them in the Event Manager settings.
Here’s what happens if you opt-out of the Facebook Pixel
Your advertising performance is crucially tied to the data recorded by your Facebook Pixel. If the FB Pixel does not record performance data in an ultraprecise manner, your ads may not reach the your ideal targeted audience.
What are the Legal Implications of This for Your Website?
Is there any first-party cookie ‘terminology’ I should share with my advertiser’s legal team if asked?
Facebook won’t provide specific language for advertisers, as only they can know their site policies and concerns. Facebook has created a document to help advertisers and publishers find resources and tools that may help them meet consent requirements.
They also recommend reading the text that the IAB (interactive advertising bureau) Europe, a trade organization for digital business and advertising, provides –
“IAB Europe has been advocating for a GDPR that provides a high level of data protection for Internet users while enabling digital advertising to continue playing its important role for the Internet ecosystem in the future. To this end IAB Europe has supported a risk-based approach to data protection, which would focus regulatory scrutiny and enforcement on data processing based on the meaningful risks for data subjects. IAB Europe has also been stressing the importance for the new law to provide clear rules that provide legal certainty for companies.”
Do advertisers Need a Different Type of Consent From Users Now That Facebook Has Changed from 3rd Party to 1st Party Cookies?
Facebook won’t provide recommendations on acquiring user consent, as only they know their current site policies.
Facebook’s document provides some direction to advertisers and publishers to assist them in finding resources and tools to help them meet consent requirements.
“If you use our pixels or SDKs, you further represent and warrant that you have provided robust and sufficiently prominent notice to users regarding the Customer Data collection, sharing and usage that includes, at a minimum:
You can also inform your website visitors that they can view their Facebook ads settings and update their preferences at any time.