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Firefox Is Blocking Your Cookies

The topic of online privacy is heating up. Recently we talked about how a U.S. congressman is looking to pass the “Do Not Track Me” act.  Now Firefox is entering it’s hat into the conversation. By default, a patch for Firefox version 22 will automatically block third party cookies.

Good news for privacy advocates. Bad news for some affiliate marketers.

The news isn’t unprecedented. Safari has been using this as a default setting for quite a while now.

Safari for computers and iOS has been blocking third-party cookies for users for over a decade.

The Two Sides

Advocates want these cookies gone by default. The believe that the vast majority of web browsers are unaware that they are being tracked. And even if they do know they don’t know the technical steps to take to avoid it.

The other side (read mainly marketers) believe that to not support these cookies is a mistake. While the average web browser may not know they’re being tracked they certainly won’t appreciate the untargeted ads they begin to see. There’s not a lot of benefit in advertising combs to bald men.

The other point of interest is that the decline of the 3rd party cookie could hurt eretailer’s bottom lines. What’s bad for the retailer is bad for the economy.

How This Hurts Affiliates

Some affiliates will miss out on commissions without 3rd party cookies being tracked. That’s just the long and short of it.  Good affiliates won’t need the 3rd party cookies though.

Here’s what marketingland.com had to say about it

Reliable affiliate marketing solutions don’t set or rely on third-party data to find users. Instead, the cookie isn’t set until after the user clicks on the ad. Then it becomes a first-party cookie.

So What’s Next?

In an industry that sees huge changes on a nearly daily basis we can’t let this put us off. It’s just another matter of swinging with the punches. Here a couple of things to consider moving forward

  • Understand Your Cookies – How do the networks you work with handle cookies? Will the Firefox change make a difference? Knowing is half the battle.
  • Are you using cookie dropping practices that are about to be outdated? If so you’ll want to set a plan to phase in new systems.

There’s nothing constant but change.

7 thoughts on “Firefox Is Blocking Your Cookies

  1. I’m with the opinion set here by MarketingLand.com. If an affiliate is advertising HONESTLY and ETHICALLY, then when a surfer clicks on his ad, it becomes a FIRST-PARTY cookie. Sounds fair to me. It will force marketers to become more responsible in their marketing and advertising. Better overall business for all of us.

  2. I’m a little lost about what a 3rd party cookie is, could someone clarify? Is this not just a way to stop some affiliates that use “Stuffing Cookies” techniques in their marketing?

  3. Hi Guys,

    I agree with MarketingLand.com and Benton, if you are not cookie stuffing and using the tracking as the networks intended then you have nothing to worry about, let me explain:

    Normal Tracking

    Affiliate websites -> Tracking URL -> Merchant site

    In this example the visitor is taken to the actual tracking URL and this is where the cookie is dropped (first-party).

    Aggressive/Cookie Stuffing

    Affiliate website (with tracking embedded) -> Merchant site

    The tracking pixel/cookie is fired on the affiliates website and therefore is a 3rd party cookie.

    This simply means that anyone cookie stuffing will track less sales and other affiliates will likely see a rise in conversions and the ‘last referrer’ will be someone else.

  4. It’s more of a problem for ad servers that rely on cookies for targeting and frequency capping. Also a problem for 3rd party analytics software.

    It does a lot more than stop cookie stuffing and “unethical” marketers. It’s going to be a huge headache for lots of perfectly legitimate software developers that are going to have to fall back to less accurate ways of tracking users (like useragent+ip), which ultimately hurts the development of the internet.

    Don’t expect Chrome to “fall in line”… G has opposed blocking 3rd party cookies, and “do not track” legislation.

  5. The problem is that when somebody hacks your site or company, you are trying to track back to the hacker who did it. I would say it is the same as trying to find out who do you pay the commission to? If you do not have the proper tracking device you will never find out who is who and that person will not get their commission! We cannot even track the hackers right and locate them!

    But maybe they can for our commissions and not for our security!

    Good Job Cookie!

  6. Yeah im with Kyle on the bit about Chrome heheh. The goog just always wants to know what you do everyday. The tracking bit should work out in the wash tho, with the first party thing kicking in more, one would think. Just like the big slaps we go thru, there is always a way. How did you put it? Roll with the punches heheh.

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