Should you freak out? No.
However, we’ve received quite a few inquiries from site owners who run the Facebook pixel and they were a bit concerned about this latest message. If you use a version of the Facebook ‘pixel’, you’ve probably received an email with the subject “Important Facebook Pixel Update”. OMG, what’s happening! Are they selling all my personal data again? No.
The most important word of advice here is, relax. The sun will rise and set, and your website will be just fine. While this latest message from the planets biggest social media network may seem a little alarmist, it’s no big deal, and you’ve likely already been migrated to the new setting without even knowing it.
Here’s the email
Important Facebook pixel update
Hi Jimmy Joe,
On October 24, Facebook will begin offering businesses a first-party cookie option with the Facebook pixel. This change is in line with updates made by other online platforms, as use of first-party cookies for ads and site analytics is becoming the preferred approach by some browsers.
Businesses have long relied on cookies to serve ads to relevant audiences and understand visits to their sites. Up until now, Facebook has used its pixel — powered by third-party cookies — for website analytics, ad targeting, and ad measurement. This new option will also help advertisers, publishers, and developers continue to get accurate analytics about traffic to their websites.
Businesses can opt out of first-party cookies by updating their pixel settings in Events Manager.
You are registered as an admin of these Facebook Ad Accounts which have Facebook pixels:
The Facebook Ads Team
If you don’t have a business account then this email will seem like it came from outer space. Although, you probably aren’t getting this email unless you DO have a Facebook pixel running and set it up yourself.
What does first party & third party mean?
First party is sort of like ‘first person’ in that the code snippet (or cookie), is directly handed out by the domain you are visiting. Third party, like ‘third person’, is when code is delivered through your website via another domain entirely. That might sound a bit confusing, but it’s really simple. Every one of our websites has been passing out 3rd party cookies for as long as you’ve been running any tracking. For instance, if you use the new Google Site Tag version of Google Analytics, it will look something like this:
<!-- Global site tag (gtag.js) - Google Analytics -->
<script async src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtag/js?id=UA-#######-1"></script>
window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || ;
gtag('js', new Date());
If you look down the second line of code above, you’ll see the domain name www.googletagmanager.com. This means that the source of the code is NOT from your domain; third-party. So that’s a third party code snippet, but it doesn’t really explain what the heck Facebook is talking about. Their email is wonderfully ambiguous and utterly unhelpful. It only strives to strike fear and uncertainty into their clients; Oh crap, what have they done this time?
For the full meal lowdown on what this means and how to undo the new setting (why would you?), take a gander at this Facebook Help Page: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/471978536642445.
It’s already taken care of
What should you do now? Absolutely nothing. Every Facebook pixel that we looked at already had been migrated to use first party cookie data sharing with the Facebook pixel. So congratulations, you did it; you survived the First Person Pixel Migration!
And just to calm your nerves, here’s another comforting message from Facebook regarding this announcement:
The options for using cookies with your Facebook pixel are:
- Use the Facebook pixel with both first and third-party cookies
Beginning on October 24th, 2018, this is the default option for Facebook pixels. With this option, you will use first-party cookie data with your Facebook pixel, in addition to third-party cookie data. This option is recommended if you use your Facebook pixel for advertising, because using both first and third-party cookies will enable you to reach more customers on Facebook and to be more accurate in measurement and reporting.
- Use the Facebook pixel with third-party cookies only
You can disable first-party cookies and use the Facebook pixel with third-party cookies only. With this option, your Facebook pixel will be less effective in reaching customers on Facebook and less accurate in measurement and reporting.
If you’re concerned about privacy or data sharing, it’s advised to … well, you’re just going to have to deal with it. So long as you exist on Facebook, your data belongs to them.
Is this all a bit overwhelming? Are you interested in discussing a marketing plan for your Facebook community?
Have a wonderful day!