How to make the most of first-party cookies

Are you making the most of your first-party cookies? Find out why they are so important and three ways you can maximise them.

In a post-third-party cookie world, data has become more precious than ever. And there is one source of data every website has, but rarely makes the most of.

That data is your first-party data. And it is collected thanks to first-party cookies on your website. In this article we’ll explore the difference between first and third-party data, and share advice on how you can make the most of your own first-party data.

What are first-party cookies?

First-party cookies are a data collection tool used by web browsers to collect information on their users’ browsing, buying and general online habits.

First party-cookies are unique to each domain and are intended to improve websites’ user experience. They record useful data like language preferences, usernames and passwords, so as you move around the website or revisit it, you don’t need to continually input information like your password, or select your preferences over and over again.

First party cookies can also keep your shopping carts filled across multiple sessions, so you don’t need to remember what you wanted, or add the same products each time.

How are first-party cookies different from third-party cookies?

So first-party cookies are local to your own website, and store data to improve the user experience of your site. But what about third-party cookies?

Third-party cookies work across different domains and are used to track user behaviour. They are usually loaded onto a user’s browser by a third-party server, such as an ad server, and are used to track clicks, website visits and buying and browsing habits.

Unlike first-party cookies, third-party cookies don’t exist to improve user experience on a website. Instead, they are used by advertisers and marketers to more accurately target online ads and facilitate retargeting.

However, while they may not directly improve the user experience of a website, they do enhance our general experience of being online by ensuring we only see ads for products, services and offers that we are interested in, and we aren’t continually hounded by repeated ads we aren’t interested in.

How can first-party cookies be used to improve your ad campaigns?

To date, the value of first-party data has been largely overlooked by advertisers. But with the demise of the third-party cookie, first-party data has become more important than ever. Let’s look at three ways you can make the most of your first-party data to improve your ad campaigns.

1) More personalised campaigns

Personalised campaigns are becoming increasingly popular – and with good reason. 99% of marketers say that personalisation helps them to advance customer relationships. And we know from the campaigns we run that the more targeted the ads, the more impactful they are, and the higher the ROI for our clients.

You can use data collected from first-party cookies to segment your audiences and serve more personalised messaging. This also better enables you to perform split testing to see what type of messaging and creative resonates with each group based on click-through and open rates.

2) More powerful omnichannel marketing

Digital advertising campaigns today rarely rely on just one medium. Instead, they will serve people ads across a number of channels – from display ads on a desktop and in-app ads, to pre-roll video ads and digital out of home ads (DOOH).

These omnichannel campaigns rely increasingly on data in order to both provide a personalised, joined-up ad experience and accurately attribute activity. By using data from your first-party cookies, you can link customer profiles (for example by matching email addresses people use to register on your site) and provide that personalised experience.

3) More accurate attribution

Speaking of attribution, your first-party data makes this essential part of successful digital advertising much easier and more accurate.

As people engage with your brand across multiple channels, their profiles will grow. As they do, your first-party data enables you to track their journey throughout your customer lifecycle and understand when they are engaging, and what with. It also makes it simpler to calculate their customer lifetime value, which in turn gives you essential data for planning future advertising campaigns.

The future of online data collection lies in first-party cookies

With major web browsers like Mozilla and Safari no longer supporting third-party cookies, and eradication from Chrome on the way, first-party cookies are becoming more and more important – and the data they collect more valuable for digital advertising. So make sure you are maximising your own first-party data.

Need help building powerful campaigns using your first-party data? Get in touch and one of our experts will be happy to see how we can help.