Privacy glossary

First-party ad


What is a first-party ad?

A first-party ad is a Web ad whose content is loaded from the same domain as the page showing the ad. The domain is the part of the URL after the “://” and before the next slash. For example, the domain of this page’s URL is “” The opposite of a first-party ad is a third-party ad, which is loaded from a different domain than the page showing the ad.

Where am I likely to see first-party ads?

You’ll generally only see first-party ads on big, popular sites from large tech companies, like search engines (such as Google or Bing) and social media (such as Facebook or X (formerly Twitter)).

That’s because showing first-party ads requires a lot of technical expertise to build and operate the ad-serving technology, and a lot of sales staff to sell ad space to a large number of advertisers. In general, only large tech companies have those functions in-house. Most smaller companies outsource ad technology and sales to ad networks, and show third-party ads.

Are first-party ads better than third-party ads?

It depends. The first-party / third-party distinction is only a matter of which URL the ad content is loaded from. The website showing a first-party ad may still be involving a third party in the process of serving the ad. You have no way to tell just from looking at the site. If there is a third party involved in showing a first-party ad, that can cause the same privacy and performance problems that third-party ads do.

If there’s no third party involved at all, then first-party ads can be better for privacy. Although first-party ads may track your browsing activity, the data about your activity at least (in theory) stays with the first-party site. First-party ads can also be better for performance—if the first-party site has good ad technology, ads probably won’t slow down the site as much as third-party ads. First-party ads may also create a better user experience, as they’re often more integrated with the page around them.

How can I avoid first-party ads?

The easiest option to avoid first-party ads is to use a browser, like Brave, with built-in ad-blocking (just set its Brave Shields feature to Aggressively block trackers & ads).

Alternatively, you can install an ad-blocking extension to your browser. However, as with any extension, ad-blocking extensions can introduce privacy and performance risks of their own. They’re developed by third-party developers who may or may not be trustworthy. They may collect data about your browsing activity. They may even slow down your browser, and drain your battery life. In other words, they can cause some of the same problems that ads do.

Some browsers try to mitigate these risks by limiting what they allow extensions to do. However, that creates a different problem: With limited capabilities, extensions might not be able to do comprehensive, fully effective ad blocking. There’s a fundamental tradeoff between safe extensions and powerful extensions. A built-in blocking feature—like Brave Shields—avoids this tradeoff entirely.

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