First Party Data becomes the go-to for advertisers

Data privacy laws and browser changes to the use of third-party cookies have caused a shift in the foundational structure for digital ads as more emphasis is now being placed on first-party data.

With third-party cookies and device-level IDs being phased out, first-party data is becoming the go-to for every advertiser  following Apple’s killing of the IDFA– the ID that allows advertisers to track users individually by their device ID, and Google’s plans to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome browser.

First party data is used for audience retargeting via advertisements, nurturing, and during the sales process. Marketers collect first party data to gain insights about their users. First party data is the data that is collected by companies directly from the consumer. This includes information such as intent to purchase, browsing behaviour, transaction history, loyalty, and preferences such as from surveys, and competitions.In other words, every information about customers from both online and offline sources, such as the company’s website, app, CRM, social media or surveys is first party data.

Advertisers have long been collecting first-party data like website visits, email clicks, social media conversations, sales transactions, survey data and more. But when big tech powers like Google and Apple started sharing their  data sets, advertisers began to rely on those more than their own first-party data. With Google and Apple now throttling back the data they share, and no longer allowing advertisers to follow users across the web with browser cookies, advertisers are once again returning to first-party data as their first choice for ad targeting.

Merkle’s 2021 Customer Engagement Report is the latest study to suggest that the collection of first-party data will be a high priority for marketers in 2021 as privacy-related data restrictions continue to expand.  According to a Marketing Dive Insight, these restrictions include the end of third-party cookies, changes to identifiers like Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), and regulations including the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and California’s Prop 24 that passed last year.

While much attention has been placed on first-party data amid the deprecation of third-party cookies, zero-party data — including transaction intentions, preference data, personal context, and what the customer thinks about the company” — will also become increasingly important, according to Merkle.

The report also finds that more than half of marketers are utilizing digital experiences and strategies to collect first-party data, ahead of tech solutions like identity resolution (36%) and omnichannel orchestration tech like a customer data platform (26%).


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