Why First-Party Data is The Future of Digital Marketing


It seems that the era of third-party cookies is becoming a thing of the past. 

Major browsers such as Firefox and Safari had already started to block third-party cookies on their browsers. But they’re not the only ones to do so.

On January 14, 2020, Google announced they would phase out third-party cookies in Chrome. They intended to do this “within two years,” which should have been in 2022.

However, Google pushed back their deadline twice – first, it was delayed until 2023, but recently, Google delayed the phase-out until “late 2024”.

first party data

Nonetheless, what is certain is that third-party cookies are phasing out. It’s only a matter of time until they are entirely gone. 

You may have heard of the cookieless future.

But what does this all mean for digital marketing? 

To a greater extent, what does this mean for digital marketers who have relied on third-party cookies for conversion tracking, reporting, and campaign optimization for around two decades?

In a nutshell, this means that as a digital marketer, you must learn how to harness the power of your own data – otherwise known as first-party data. 

first party data google ads process

In a “cookieless future,” you must learn to adapt the first-party approach to your marketing strategy before third-party cookies phase out.

If you’re scratching your head trying to figure out what it all means, don’t worry- you’re far from alone!

What is First-Party Data?

First-party data is simply a type of data or information you collect from your own sources instead of someone else’s (i.e., Google).

first party data example

If you are working with a client, tap into their first-party data.

You can collect first-party data from various assets:

  • Website
  • App
  • Social media
  • Surveys
  • CRM

The more channels you use to engage with your customers or users, the more sources you’ll have for your first-party data.

What separates first-party data from outside sources – namely, second-party and third-party data – is better insight and consent.

Consent is part of the more significant movement towards privacy and transparency, evolving from consumer demand. 

After all, if a user subscribes to your newsletter or submits a contact form, they are giving consent to you using their data.

How Do You Collect First-Party Data? 

Collecting first-party data depends on the channels you use to engage with your customers. 

For example, if you have a website, you most likely have a set of first-party data within your analytics or CRM dashboard.

Website & CRM Data

  • Pageviews
  • Purchase history
  • Browser type
  • Location (city, country, etc.)
  • Demographics
  • Language
  • Referring websites
  • Email
  • Phone Number

Social Media Data

  • Post likes
  • Comments
  • Giveaways
  • Interests

Generally, it’s best to be intentional when gathering first-party data. 

first party data example

For example, if you are working on a marketing campaign, you may compile different data during the awareness and buying decision stages.

You may be interested in what catches the user’s attention in the awareness stage. 

But once the user is about to buy your product, you may want to know what led them to buy it.

Benefits of First-Party Data Over Third-Party Cookies 

First-party data offers some benefits compared to third-party data, especially now that the latter is slowly phasing out. 

first party data example

But even before the phasing out of third-party data, first-party data offers benefits that third-party data cannot provide:

  • First-hand information
  • Compliance with privacy laws
  • Less expensive
  • Signals trustworthiness

First-Hand Information 

Unlike second- and third-party data, first-party data is something that you obtain yourself. 

Hence, you have better control over it – i.e., which data you will collect and how you use it.

Also, first-party data offers better insight than second and third-party data since it comes directly from your customers. 

Compliance with Privacy Laws 

Generally, using first-party data is compliant with privacy laws because your users or customers provide their consent for their data by using your website or any channel you use to engage with them. 

Since they provided this consent, you are less likely to face data privacy complaints.

It would help if you were transparent about processing the data your users are providing.

Less Expensive 

First-party data is generally cheaper compared to third-party data. Sometimes, you can even get them for free.

However, first-party data takes more time to acquire than third-party data.

Nonetheless, given the quality of insight they provide, acquiring or gathering first-party data on your own is always worth your time, energy, and money.

Signals Trustworthiness 

Gathering and primarily using first-party data signals trustworthiness to customers. 

Customers will appreciate transparency in how you gather and use their information.

Introducing Zero-Party Data

Zero-party data is a term that was coined by Forrester in 2020. It refers to data that is collected directly from customers without the need for any third-party involvement. 

You can collect this data type through value exchanges like providing a more personalized experience or offering a discount.

Why Use Zero-Party Data

There are several benefits to using zero-party data. First and foremost, it allows you to collect data directly from your customers, giving you a more complete and accurate picture of who they are and what they want.

It can also help build deeper relationships with your customers, who willingly share information with you. This transparency can lead to more loyalty and engagement down the line.

What First-Party Data Means for Advertisers

First-party data has always been important for advertisers, but it has become even more critical in recent years. 

With new privacy policies and the ability to use customer match lists on Google Ads and Facebook Ads, advertisers have had to rely more heavily on first-party data.

First-party data has been a challenge for many advertisers, as first-party data can be difficult to obtain and often requires a lot of investment. 

However, the benefits of using first-party data are clear. Advertisers who use first-party data can create more targeted and effective campaigns, leading to better results.

If you’re an advertiser, you must invest in first-party data. Doing so will allow you to create more targeted and effective campaigns, ultimately leading to better results.

The Problem for Advertisers

One of the challenges of using first-party data is that it can be difficult to track conversions. When website visitors choose not to accept cookies on a website, it makes it even more challenging to track their activity.

Blocking cookies can make conversion tracking more challenging to measure and report on for advertisers. However, there are ways to get around this issue, and it is something that advertisers will need to continue to work on in the years ahead.

Embracing the “Cookieless Future”

Third-party cookies will be obsolete soon.

As the industry slowly shifts from third-party to first-party data, marketers must make the necessary changes and implement a first-party data approach for future marketing campaigns.

Then, you can learn to collect and utilize first-party data to maximize marketing efforts. 

Ultimately, the benefit of first-party data is for the user.

Since the data comes directly from your customers, you’ll have better insight into how your customers relate to your brand and vice-versa.

Still unsure about first-party data?

Don’t worry. We have until 2024 to figure it out.



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