• Carl

Stop your cookies from crumbling with first party cookies

It's been in beta for a while but as of Spring '21, first party cookies in Pardot became a full-blown feature.

I thought the release came with some pretty awesome features and this one is no exception, as it comes way ahead of time before third party cookies are phased out.

Which gives you time to get your house in order.

Let's explain what they are first and why the change is an important one.

What are cookies?

Cookies are small pieces of data that a web browser stores onto a visitors device when they visit your website. This allows web developers to give you more a more personal experience as you browse the web. By accepting cookies, you're allowing web developers to build a picture of who you are and your demographics.

This means I won't get an advert for a Man Utd shirt if I'm identified as a Leeds fan. #MOT

They are small text files of data that are used to identify your device on the network, which is labelled with a unique ID so the web server of the website you are visiting will be able to tell that it's you when the connection to your device is made.

Having read the ID, the web server will then determine what information to give you.

Pretty clever.

It's based on your "sessions". Gathering information over the course of your browsing history allows for a more personal experience to build over time.

This is a double edged sword. Cookies in and of themselves aren't dangerous, technically.

The problem lies in data privacy.

The difference between first and third party cookies

The two types of cookies are first party and third party cookies. Not surprisingly, one is safer than the other.

- Third Party Cookies - These cookies are created by other sites that are different from the website you've visiting. Maybe you visit ACME company's website but there was an advert on there for a CRM vendor. The CRM vendor can gather your data, even though you never really showed them any interest.

- First Party Cookies - These are created by the websites that you visit. Your data is still collected but by the company themselves. So visiting ACME company's website, they will gather your data and they own it.

Traditionally, third party cookies are used extensively by online advertising. The danger lies in the fact that a whole raft of companies could gather information on you and you don't even know it. It doesn't give you any control over who knows what about you.

Because of this, third party cookies are now being frowned upon by certain browsers. Google themselves announced that Chrome will stop supporting third party cookies by 2022.

Why does this matter for Pardot?

Pardot used third party cookies on your visitors, which means Pardot were the ones gathering your visitor data on your behalf.

By moving to first party cookie tracking, the power now lies with you.

Your tracker domains will now be the domains that set the cookies, giving you control and ownership of the data. For your visitors, it gives them the peace of mind that you are the ones that own that data, no one else.

Plus, you are the ones gathering the data, which means you can provide a better experience to your visitors.

Win / Win.

What you need to consider before switching

Here are a few things to consider when making the switch.

- You need to use only https links. Mixing https and http can mean that new IDs are issued to visitors so activity won't be linked properly.

- Use only one subdomain or ensure all the subdomains being used are part of the same root domain. First party cookies won't track across subdomains unless they are part of the same root.

- During the transition, it might be wise to use both third and first party tracking.

- To add to the above point, switching tracker domains means a new ID will be set, so having third party tracking enabled to begin with will help with that change.

How to enable first party tracking in Pardot

To enable first party tracking...

- Navigate to Pardot Settings > Account Settings > Edit

- Scroll down to find the checkbox "use first party tracking"

- Next, go to the domain you wish to get the tracker code for and click the cog on the right hand side to get to edit.

- Once you've updated the tracker domain, you will get a new tracker code for the campaign to copy and paste onto your website.

There you have it, you're now well ahead of the curve before third party cookies become unsupported and you've given your visitors the assurance that they are only dealing with you.

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