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As of October 24th, Facebook will roll out an update for the Facebook Pixel – specifically, how cookies related to the Pixel work. We’re going to tell you what this means for your Facebook Pixel and what steps, if any, you need to take once the update comes into effect.
Cookies are tiny pieces of data left on your device when you visit a website or perform an action on a site. The point of a cookie is almost always to improve the user’s browsing experience, by helping the site to remember your device as you navigate between pages, or return to a site. Cookies will help you stay logged in when you’re on a site, or recall your data from a previous session. They can also be used by advertisers to track users across multiple sites – which is where the update comes in.
Facebook is rolling out a change to the classification of the Pixel’s cookies. The change (enabled by default) allows you to set up your Pixel to use first-party cookies, as opposed to third-party cookies.
But what is the difference?
On the surface, very little. Whether a cookie is first or third-party refers to where it comes from. A first-party cookie is one from the domain in which it is placed. For example, a first-party cookie on Amazon.com would have originated from Amazon themselves. First-party cookies are generally the most trusted, the most useful for users. The kind that automatically logs you in when you come back to a site.
The nature of third-party cookies leads to some privacy or security concerns. Because of this, web browsers are being configured more often to block third-party cookies. Alternatively, an AdBlock software will commonly block these cookies. Often this is no problem. Only, in the case of the Facebook Pixel, it can be problematic for you as a site owner. Since the Pixel originates from Facebook, not your domain, cookies left by the Pixel are classified as a third-party cookie. So your Pixel tracking may experience interference from browsers or AdBlock software.
Changing to first-party cookies is a workaround for this, in order to make your Pixel data a lot more reliable, and less subject to interference. Users can still block first-party cookies as well, however many will not, and providing cookies from a first-party source indicates to users (and browsers) that they can be trusted.
What steps do you need to take to your Pixel once the update rolls out? In most cases, none.
The Pixel will be set as first-party by default. You can change this if you wish. From your Facebook Business account, go into Business Manager, then “Measure & Report”, then “Pixels”.
From here, select your Pixel, and go to Settings. This will bring up your Facebook Pixel cookie settings, where you can choose whether to enable first-party cookies or not.
This should already be set up for your Pixel, or Pixels, but if you want to enable first-party cookies, it’s best to check that it is set up just to be sure.
No changes are necessary for Pixel Cat. There is no change to events or the tracking provided by the Pixel itself, so Pixel Cat will continue to operate exactly the same.
If you have documentation on your site informing your users about cookie usage, you may want to update that to mention the change and addition of the Pixel as a first-party cookie. However, the only difference that should be observed is an improvement to the reliability of the data you receive.