What Is 1st-Party Data? How Do I Use It In Digital Advertising?

What is 1st Party Data?

First party data is information a company has directly collected itself on a consumer. 

For a brand, this data could be personally identifiable information (PII) such as name, mailing address, email address, and phone number. It could also be the technical identifiers such as cookies or mobile device IDs associated with an anonymous user or his/her PII as well as behavior/engagement with the brand. This information could be gathered from sales, surveys, lead gen forms, and direct observation of consumers on-site engaging with the brand. 

For a publisher, this data could be similar information collected from subscription or registration to read content. 

What is the difference between 1st-Party Data and 2nd-Party Data?

Second party data is when two trusted parties share their directly gathered information. Typically these companies are partners or have a direct financial arrangement to share such information. For example, American Airlines and Hyatt have partnered around their loyalty programs. American Airlines might market to Hyatt customers and Hyatt might market to American Airlines through this partnership which may facilitate sharing of user data for joint customers. If American Airline receives information its customers from Hyatt, they are receiving 2nd-party data.

What is the difference between 2nd-Party Data and 3rd-Party Data?

Third party data is when consumer data is aggregated across multiple sources, joined together into a package, and sold by the aggregator under its own brand. Because the buyer/user of the data isn’t directly gathering the data and because the seller isn’t necessarily the one collecting the data directly from the customer (or directly obtaining consent), then the data being used is 3rd-party data.

Is 1st-party data better than the other types?

Yes, but it is hard to scale. You only have information on the users you already have successfully converted to become customers or enter your funnel. If you want to reach more customers, you have to use on 2nd-party or 3rd-Party Data to reach potential customers that are qualified based on your customer profile. 

How can I use 1st-party data in targeting?

1st-party data such as CRM/PII data (name, email address, etc.) can now be used to target specific individuals. By uploading your 1st-party CRM/PII data to an ad platform such as Facebook, you can directly target the users that the ad platform has a matching profile for. This allows you to target specific people in your mailing list or customer data base for example.

How can I use 1st-party data in personalizing?

1st-party data such as past purchases, products viewed, and registration data can be now used in dynamic creative optimization (DCO) solutions to select the right ad to serve to the user. Because you directly observe/collect the data, you know the information to be highly accurate which allows you to deliver the right experience to the right user.

How can I use 1st-party data in measuring?

1st-party data such as offline sales information can be used to match to online ad exposure so you can measure the impact of digital ads to offline sales.

Is 1st-party data the same as having my own identity graph?

Not necessarily. An identity graph connects different user profiles and their associated device IDs together. You can use a 3rd-party identity graph provider such as LiveRamp which may have much more data points on users to build a more robust identity graph than most brands can build on their own since most potential customers haven’t yet given their data to the brand and most brands don’t have enough of a digital footprint to build a build enough graph themselves.

What are 1st-party cookies and how do they relate to 1st-party data?

1st-party cookies are a form of 1st-party data. They are a brand’s own cookies dropped on users from the brand’s own website. On Chrome browsers, these 1st-party cookies will continue tracking users across the web whenever a user encounters a page or ad that sends a request for that cookie (this requires special implementation). 

On Safari and Firefox, these 1st-party cookies no longer work outside the brand’s own website which means you can generally only use the 1st-party cookies to track activity, reach, and frequency on your own website. It would take special implementation of registration information tied to your 1st-party cookies and registration information tied to your media publisher’s 1st-party cookies to do any cross-site tracking and personalization for Safari and Firefox. More info on this to come in our forthcoming article on intelligent tracking prevention (ITP) by Safari.