Tag Archives: first-party data

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Written by Caroline Cox on Sep 24 , 2021

The problem: Third-party data is on its way out. The solution? First-party data — here’s why.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to define first-party data
  • The difference between first-, second-, and third-party data
  • Why first-party data matters
  • Ways to gather this data

Customer experience management company Merkle recently released its 2021 Customer Engagement Report. Over half of the respondents surveyed said their organizations have prioritized digital experiences and/or strategies to collect more first-party data. 

Not only that, but they report that collecting and storing first-party data over the next 6-12 months is a high (58%) or the highest priority (30%) among marketers.

Third-party data is poised to go the way of side parts and skinny jeans — out of style (according to Gen Z, at least). Now, first-party data is expected to reign supreme.

MarTech explains it well:

“​​With the demise of third-party cookies and re-evaluating customer habits post-pandemic, this is the perfect opportunity to close gaps in consumer insights and understand how to build a data strategy to deliver meaningful experiences.”

Let’s dig into facts, best practices, and expert tips for leveraging first-party data successfully.

woman in front of a wall with a colorful data projection

Third-party cookies are when an independent third party gathers data from a site they don’t own. (Image via Pexels)

What is first-party data?

You’ve likely seen pop-ups on sites you’ve visited online asking you to “accept” cookies in order to keep viewing a page. This is how sites get first-party data. 

First-party data is anonymous information a site gathers about its visitors while they’re on your website or app. 

This data helps the site owner improve user experiences, allowing them to better target their audience. 

First-party data vs. third-party data

Whereas first-party cookies are set and tracked by the particular website itself, third-party cookies are when an independent third party gathers data from a site they don’t own. Third-party data is aggregated by various first-party data sources. 

For example, an e-commerce brand gathering info from Facebook to show you ads with similar products you may like is leveraging third-party data. Brands will usually have to pay for this type of data, though the cost varies. 

The benefits of first-party data

Privacy rules are changing. Some of the biggest names in tech, such as Google and Apple, have recently made changes to their policies when it comes to how people are tracked via their phones and computers. 

Because of these changes, many third-party data options are becoming more limited or going away entirely. The problem with leaning heavily on third-party data is that browsers such as Google’s Chrome and Microsoft Edge have already begun or are planning to limit or block the use of third-party data. 

Google plans to block the use of third-party data in 2023. One of Apple’s most recent updates included a new transparency framework where apps have to request permission before they can track users. 

The good news: While third-party cookies are on their way out, first-party cookies aren’t. 

You can gather this data in a few ways, including:

  • Tracking tools
  • Hosting contests
  • Leveraging lead gen forms
  • Creating surveys
  • Interviewing clients and/or prospects

Often, all it takes is a small incentive — such as the opportunity to win a gift card — to get someone to complete a survey, enter a contest, or participate in a brief phone call. 

Pro tip: While there may be a cost related to collecting and storing your data, it’s often more affordable than purchasing data from a third party. 

person analyzing data

Second-party data can be useful because it can offer a new perspective on your target audience. (Image via Pexels)

How to leverage first-party data

Forbes reports that, because of the “willful relationship and implied or active consent” when it comes to first-party data, this data is often “more accurate, provides better insights, has higher conversion rates and is a priority for maintaining customer relationships.”

One of the most effective ways to use first-party data is for ad personalization. This data is often more accurate than third-party data because it’s coming straight from your users and visitors. Not only that, but it’s unique — meaning it’s not a carbon copy of the data your competitors are gathering. 

This data can enhance your ads by targeting more qualified leads, building brand awareness, and ensuring you’re targeting the right people at the right funnel stage at the right time.

Where second-party data fits in

Second-party data is, no surprise here, the middle ground between first- and third-party data. Whereas third-party data comes from multiple sources, second-party cookies are from a single source.

The upside of second-party data is that you can feel pretty confident in its accuracy, since it’s from a direct, known source. This data also comes at a cost. 

As HubSpot explains, second-party data can be useful because it can offer a new perspective on your target audience — “since it’s coming from another organization, you may uncover trends or patterns that you overlooked in your first party research.”

The takeaway

You know the phrase, “If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself?” It applies here. 

First-party data is reliable. You can use it for everything from retargeting and nurturing to optimizing your client personas. Plus, with third-party cookies being phased out, you won’t have to rely on anyone else to gather the info you need. 

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]
Written by Caroline Cox on Aug 16 , 2021

Tracking and cookies and data, oh my!

Here, you’ll find:

  • How data privacy is changing
  • How marketers can pivot their strategies accordingly
  • What the future holds for third-party cookies
  • Expert insights into getting the data you need

Are you aware of your country’s rules and regulations when it comes to your data?

If you don’t, you’re not alone. Turns out, only about one third of internet users worldwide are aware of their country’s data protection and online privacy rules, according to Statista. 

But that may soon change. Lately, big brands like Google and Apple have begun rolling out significant changes around how people are tracked online and via their smartphones. 

You may have heard chatter about this, seen a commercial, or noticed pop-ups around data tracking come up on your phone screen.

Some of these changes are confusing or simply misunderstood by the general population. Let’s break it down with help from HawkSEM marketing pros and Jenny Palmer, Connie Redfield, and Maria Smart.

Apple’s move towards more data transparency

As mentioned in our previous post about Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, the brand recently implemented its new AppleTracking transparency framework. Basically, all apps now need to request permission to track users. 

According to Jenny, apps are able to include a “purpose string” in the prompt. This explains why they’d like to track the user. However, if the user doesn’t select “allow,” the app won’t be able to individually track them. 

This obviously affects digital marketers who use this data, particularly via Facebook, to serve remarketing ads and better understand their audience’s demographics and preferences. 

There are a few things advertisers can do to take the sting out of this change, such as:

  • Verify their domain
  • Leverage aggregated event measurement, a Facebook tool that allows for measurement of web events from iOS 14 users
  • Expect a drop in purchases in Facebook reporting as well as smaller retargeting audience sizes
  • Pivot your Facebook strategy by reviewing placement data and comparing attributions in Google Analytics

Connie explains that it’s understandable for this change to be concerning, especially to small businesses who rely on data to reach and expand their audiences. She recommends using customer lists, lookalike audiences, and testing new prospecting audiences — even the ones that may seem a little far-fetched.

person holding two handfuls of rainbow sprinkle cookies

Third-party cookies have become synonymous with tracking, retargeting and ads. (Image via Unsplash)

A “stay of execution” for third-party cookies

Due to mounting privacy concerns, Google originally announced that third-party cookies would be phased out in 2022. Then, in June 2021, they pushed it back to 2023. But let’s back up.

A cookie is a piece of data stored on a user’s computer while they’re viewing a site. First-party cookies are set by that specific website. These cookies allow the site owners to collect anonymous data and improve user experiences. For example, an e-commerce website showing you similar products you may like.

Third party cookies, on the other hand, are created and set by third parties — someone other than the website owner. Third-party cookies have become synonymous for tracking, retargeting and ads. First-party cookies won’t be affected by these new policy changes.

Gathering first-party data is a great way to grow your audience and keep control, adds Jenny.

Pro tip: FireFox and Safari have already started blocking third-party cookies, so this change is nothing new.

What is FLoC?

Google threw its own hat into the ring with the recent introduction of their Federated Learning of Cohorts, or FLoC. This is Google’s solution to the impending end of third-party cookies. 

This interest-based advertising tool clusters large groups of people with similar interests. This approach effectively hides individuals “in the crowd.” Instead, it uses on-device processing to keep a person’s web history private on the browser. 

Google says that FLoC (currently in its testing phase) can be an effective stand-in for third-party cookies and can allow advertisers to keep reaching in-market and affinity audiences. They even claim that “advertisers can expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising.” 

Want actionable ways to adapt to these privacy changes, common data myths dispelled, and more? Check out our Online Privacy & Digital Marketing in 2021 webinar recording.

woman in a black mask waving at her phone's camera

The idea of creating and serving quality content that answers searchers’ queries will always be a winning strategy. (Image via Unsplash)

Online privacy & SEO

We often talk about how SEO is a marathon rather than a sprint. As Maria puts it, another great thing about not letting SEO fall to the wayside is that, when done right, it’s set up to be largely unaffected by these privacy changes.

That’s because these updates won’t impact your ability to reach people organically. If anything, the changes that are taking place are just further proof that SEO is an essential part of marketing your website properly.

By following SEO best practices like developing quality content to connect with searchers, you should still be able to show up on the search engine results page (SERP) for relevant searches. 

Algorithm updates can impact how your SEO efforts are ranked and displayed by Google. That’s why, as Maria explains, the idea of creating and serving quality content that answers searchers’ queries will always be a winning strategy and can even help your paid efforts see more success.

The takeaway

The bottom line, according to Connie: These online privacy changes won’t stop advertisers from reaching their audience. What will change is how you get your data, what data you have access to, and what that data looks like.

Knowledge is power, right? By knowing the ins and outs of these changing rules and regulations, you can pivot your strategy and continue striving toward your ROI goals. 

Need more help with your SEO or paid search efforts? Let’s chat.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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