What are third party cookies?

Third party cookies are used by advertisers who collect user information through their advertising on other pages with the cookies. These are data records that are stored in the user’s browser when he visits a page with the advertisement. If he visits a page with advertising from the same provider again, he will be recognized.

Since third-party cookies can be used to track the user’s path on the Internet, the advertiser can display advertising tailored to the user’s “profile” when they visit the site again.

Difference from first party cookies

The word “party” in First / Third Party Cookies refers to the domain from which the cookie originated. While a first-party cookie usually comes from the website operator himself, third-party cookies can be traced back to another – “third” – person who places their cookies on another page.

It is therefore possible that after visiting a website, both third-party cookies and first-party cookies will be stored on your computer – by the site itself and by a third party who placed advertising on this site. With a first party cookie, the user can only be recognized from the page from which the cookie originates, but not across multiple domains. The data will not be passed on to third parties.

Third party cookies are technically easier to implement than first party cookies. No code has to be stored on the website on which the cookies are to be integrated. The ad from the third-party ad server is sufficient.

Creation of extensive user profiles possible

Third party cookies collect a lot of useful information from users for advertisers, including:

– length of stay

– page views

– Movement of the user via links

The entirety of this information provides a good picture of the interests of the user, because here it is not only possible to track what he is interested in within a domain, but across multiple domains. Third party cookies allow the creation of extensive user profiles so that advertisers can deliver exactly the right advertising.

Third party cookies – data protection

This is exactly what is criticized by privacy advocates. They complain that this type of data collection lacks anonymity, since user data is also collected across other pages and third parties have access to it. Although there is a European directive on the processing, storage, use and disclosure of personal data – the e-privacy directive (also known as the cookie directive) – this has not yet been implemented in Germany or there are still unclear regulations as to which regulations apply to Germans Websites apply. According to the e-privacy guideline, the user must expressly consent to their data being tracked. The implementation should take place through the so-called opt-in / opt-out function.

Germany has never actively implemented the directive, ie has not passed a law, but assumes that implementation would not have been necessary because the German legal situation (through the Telemedia Act) would have already met these requirements. Website owners are (currently) taking a legally secure path if they choose the opt-out solution in accordance with the TMG.

Additional information:

Google cookie notice

Current information on the evaluation of the cookie policy

Third party cookies – alternatives

Third party cookies are often blocked in the default setting by browser or security settings, which is of course disadvantageous for advertisers. In the long term, however, cookies will become less important – due to falling acceptance, increased use of mobile devices and the default settings of browsers and operational cessation. However, that does not mean that data about users will soon no longer be available, because there are a number of alternatives that on the one hand better protect privacy and on the other hand can be used for mobile devices. This includes fingerprinting, in which a device (and, accordingly, the user) is recognized on the basis of specific, individual features.

According to dictionaryforall.com, Google is currently working on a third party cookie alternative: Google AdID should enable advertisers to collect data anonymously. Users, on the other hand, should be able to switch on a private mode in which no information can be transmitted at all.

What are third party cookies