Think powerful targeting in ad platforms like Google and Meta, the building of lookalike audiences, ad personalisation, email lists and much more.
However, not all data is created equally, and recent and upcoming changes in privacy laws and platforms means marketers have to understand the different types of data, and where they should be investing their time and money to stay ahead (and out of trouble) of these changes.
Bottom line, data will continue to be a critical part of your marketing toolkit, but only if you adapt to the new reality.
First-party data refers to the information that a company collects directly from its own customers or users through interactions with its owned channels or touchpoints. It includes data such as website visits, purchase history, email interactions, and other customer-related information.
Second-party data refers to data that is obtained directly from another company or organisation. It is shared or exchanged between two trusted entities, typically through a strategic partnership or collaboration. This data provides insights into another company's customers or audience, allowing for enhanced targeting and personalisation efforts.
Third-party data refers to data that is collected by external entities that are separate from the company using the data. These entities gather data from various sources, such as websites, apps, social media platforms, or data aggregators. Third-party data providers compile and offer this data to marketers for targeting, audience segmentation, and insights. It can include demographic information, interests, browsing behaviour, and other attributes, providing a broader view of the target audience beyond a company's own data.
Recent (and upcoming) changes to privacy laws such as GDPR and CCPA, have imposed stricter consent requirements for collecting and using personal data. Companies and platforms are increasingly cautious about sharing user data and the end result has been a reduction in the quality and quantity of second and third-party data.
There is no suggestion this move to greater privacy will ease up. If anything, the expectation is that second and third-party data will continue to be challenged.
On top of this are platform changes, such as Apple's App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework and Google's phasing out of third-party cookies, which have (or will) reduce the accessibility and usability of third-party data. These changes aim to enhance user privacy by limiting tracking and data sharing across platforms, affecting the availability and reliability of third-party data.
First-party data has always been the most powerful data for marketers. It’s also often been the most expensive to collect and maintain, and the reality is that many marketers have failed to build this asset effectively and typically make use of it in only limited ways.
The data landscape is changing, and the incentives for building first-party data and getting the most out of it, is getting stronger and stronger. When it comes to third-party data, ad targeting is unlikely to return to the good old days of the fairly recent past. Sending bulk emails to unsuspecting databases of people who have never heard of you will continue to be a poor idea. Tracking users across devices and platforms is not something we’ll be able to rely on. And so it goes on. Using technology and third-party personal information at scale is going to continue to decline as will the results of marketers who rely on it.
This leaves marketers willing and able to deliver real value and build real relationships with their audience in a powerful position. In a world where brands who do not know us will struggle to target us with ads and content, those brands who have invested in a relationship with us will be in a powerful position, because they will have the ability to truly stand out.
At its simplest level, first-party marketing data is typically an email address and a name. It can, and should, be so much more than this. At its best, first-party data can power personalisation, segmentation and insights to truly transform marketing ROI.
Here’s some examples of first-party data:
How much of this information are you capturing and using as part of your marketing efforts?
It’s time to get creative when it comes to what you want to know about your audience for their, and your, benefit.
The true value of first-party data is in what a marketer chooses to do with it. Consider these options:
If the best time to have launched a first-party data strategy was 10 years ago, then the second best time is today. As emerging trends in digital marketing continue to change the way we engage and interact online, there is nothing but upside for those marketers who choose to take the collection, and the use, of first party data seriously.
David Lawrence is the MD and Co-Founder of Rocket, an award-winning Australian digital marketing agency. He is also the co-author of the Amazon #1 best-selling marketing book 'Smarter Marketer'. David has presented at several events including Inbound, Search Marketing Summit, Mumbrella360, CEO Institute and a variety of seminars and in-house sessions.
David has built his expertise from a diverse career, starting with an economics degree before jumping into all things web in the late 90s.
Today, David is Rocket's Managing Director and is known for his ability to find clarity in the bigger picture. He is highly respected as a digital marketing authority, sharing his expertise with an extensive network here in Australia and around the world.