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What to Tell Your Clients About First-Party Data

Michael Okada
Michael Okada
Written by
Michael Okada
Apr 05
Apr 5, 2022
What to Tell Your Clients About First Party Data

When your clients start asking you: “With third-party cookies set to be phased out, how will your agency be compensating?” you need answers and fast. 

The answer? First-party data. But agencies are running out of time to figure out how to harness the power of first-party data–and you definitely don’t want to be left scrambling for crumbs when third-party cookies are gone forever!

So, keep reading and learn how to prepare for the impending cookie apocalypse. We’ll also show you what to tell your clients about first-party data, so they know your agency will be among the first to the first-party data party 🎉. 

What is First-Party Data

First-party data (or ‘1P data’ for short) is one of the most valuable types of data because it comes directly from customers. It’s gathered by tracking and observing their behavior on your client’s websites. Compared to other types of data, first-party data is more accurate, more cost-effective, and allows for greater personalization– all the while being better at protecting customers’ privacy as well. The cherry on top? You own it (or your clients do, at least).

Examples of 1P Data

A few of the most notable examples of first-party data include:

  • Demographics

  • Contact info

  • Purchase history

  • Website activity and engagement: 

  • Social media activity

  • Customer interests and behaviors

If you want to get even more granular, first-party data also includes things like timestamps, IP address, search history, language(s) spoken, and even message history. 

First-Party Data vs. Everything Else

There are three main types of data: 

  1. First-party (plus a relatively new sub-set known as Zero-Party Data)

  2. Second-party

  3. Third-party

The table below shows some of the biggest differences between these types of data:


Collected from customers directly

Customer consent

Individual data 

Accurate and reliable

Data shared with other parties

First-Party Data 

Second-Party Data

Third-Party Data

Depends

What Are The Differences Between Each Data Type?

The main difference between first-party data and second-party data is who’s using the data at the end of the day. Notice how both data are practically the same in the table above, aside from one column.

With first-party data, your clients collect it to use it themselves, whereas second-party data is collected by the company and sold to others. In other words, the minute your client decides to sell their first-party data to someone else, it becomes second-party data to whoever is buying it.

Third-party data, on the other hand, is collected across many websites, apps, and different platforms by a third-party entity (such as marketers, advertisers, or social media platforms). That data is then combined into aggregate data (instead of individual data) that are used to create detailed audience profiles before being sold to others. 

Third-party cookies are the means by which your third-party data is collected and tracked across the internet.

4 Best Practices for Capturing First-Party Data 

Here are a few best practices when it comes to collecting first-party data:

1. Lead Generation Forms

Some may write off lead generation forms as the realm of B2B, real estate, and SaaS, but they’re wrong and potentially missing out on a goldmine of first-party data. At the bare minimum, lead generation forms collect pertinent first-party data like name and email address, but that’s not all. 

Once you update your client’s mailing list, those who filled out those forms will provide you with even more valuable data like CTR, open rate, conversion rate, etc.

Even better, lead generation forms are easy to create and automate. The trick is to provide enough value to entice them to fill out the form. A few great ways to do that include:

  • Have a contest or giveaway

  • Give away something for free (like an ebook, newsletter, webinar, or downloadable template)

2. Surveys, Polls, and Quizzes

Surveys, polls, and quizzes are excellent ways to capture first-party data. They’re also great opportunities for agencies to get creative because you’ve got room to make them much more engaging than a simple lead gen form.

For example, do you remember how much fun those Buzzfeed quizzes used to be? The ones that had those click-bait titles like “Which Disney Princess Are You?”. Not only were they fun to fill out and extremely shareable, but can you imagine the wealth of valuable first-party data Buzzfeed got from them? It’s kind of mind-blowing when you think about it.

Even in this era of increasing privacy concerns, people are more than willing to share their data if you make it fun for them to do so. It’s up to marketers and agencies to make it worth their while.

3. Custom Forms and Questions

If there are certain things that your clients want in a customer, consider adding custom questions to your forms and surveys to prequalify those that fit the criteria.

The most important thing here is to make the questions easy to answer. Avoid open-ended questions that require essay-length responses. People will usually skip them, and if that’s not an option, they’ll just leave instead.

In these cases, it’s best to use multiple choice questions because they’re an easy way to get customers to share more about themselves willingly.

Remember to balance the need for first-party data vs. the friction of having more fields to fill out. Finding the right balance that creates enough positive friction to keep your more qualified candidates in the pipeline is ideal. 

4. Customer Feedback and Reviews

We all tend to view customer reviews as more trustworthy than anything a company or salesperson might tell you. Not only is reading reviews a big part of the purchasing process, but they’re also a great source of first-party data.

For all these reasons, companies will go out of their way to ask their customers to give feedback and reviews, and we highly suggest that your agency does, too.

These reviews can also provide a wealth of first-party data, including how the customer used the product or service, what they liked or disliked, etc. 

Make It Personal With First-party Data

As your clients gather the first-party data, it’s a great opportunity to get to know their customers on a much deeper level than if you simply bought the data off of some third party. This makes it extremely easy to segment the audience into many different groups, getting as general or as personal as you want, and then creating specific ads targeting them.

For example, you may notice some customers that visit your clients’ sites are only interested in specific types of products. Analyzing the first-party you gained from tracking their activity on your client’s website will give you a better understanding of what drives their behavior so you can create product-focused ads or emails that speak directly to their wants and needs.

How To Utilize First-Party Data to Measure Campaign Success 

All the data in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t know what you’re collecting or why it’s relevant. That’s why your client’s goals should drive any data collection strategy.

You should think of first-party data as the foundation of your marketing strategy, and it should be the driver behind the goals and objectives of your clients.

Let’s say your client wants to grow their brand awareness. Before you start collecting any data, you’ll have to define the relevant metrics you will monitor, such as leads, browsing activity, downloads, product usage, mentions, total followers, and social media shares.

Next, you’ll want to look at your clients’ competitors to identify benchmarks so you can identify successes and areas to improve. 

Now, you’re ready to start collecting that data! Make sure to track it over time and check the progress periodically.

By focusing on first-party data, you can build and segment your own database to better understand customer value, pain points, and the key decision-making moments that will help create a stronger and more efficient purchase funnel. 

Alternatives to Third-party Cookies

With Google set to kill third-party cookies in 2023 (which is also known as “cookie deprecation”), “41% of marketers believe their biggest challenge will be their inability to track the right data”, according to Hubspot.

But that doesn’t mean agencies have to start from scratch or rewrite the playbook. While some areas of marketing and advertising will be hit harder than others, here are a few exciting alternatives to third-party cookies that are already stepping up to help agencies prepare for a world without third-party cookies.

1. First-Party Cookies 

It’s important to know that Google only plans to phase out third-party cookies. First-party cookies, which collect the first-party data we’ve been talking about, are completely safe for now. 

This is a good thing because first-party cookies improve the user experience in many ways by remembering:

  • Login details

  • User preferences

  • Items in your shopping cart

With cookie deprecation set for next year, it’s more important than ever for agencies to be able to integrate that first-party data collected across dozens of marketing channels. Using a campaign dashboard templatecan make it remarkably easy for agencies to communicate complex data to their clients in an easy, visual way.

2. The Privacy Sandbox

According to Google, the Privacy Sandbox is “a new initiative to develop a set of open standards to fundamentally enhance privacy on the web”. Using this set of tools, agencies will still be able to target ads to specific audiences, even with fewer user data.

For example, in a January 2022 blog post, Google announced a new Privacy Sandbox proposal called “Topics,” an API created with interest-based advertising in mind. In a nutshell, browsers would determine a user’s top interests based on search history and then organize these interests into topics like “Fitness” or “Travel and Transportation.” When visiting a site, only three Topics will be shared with the site and advertising partners.

To protect privacy, these Topics are only stored for three weeks before being deleted and are selected on the device only, meaning no external servers can access them, not even Google.

The Topics API is a new proposal replacing a previous idea known as FLoC

 (Federated Learning of Cohorts) that was meant to identify and group users based on cohort.

Contextual Advertising: Getting Traditional in a Cookieless World

Times of rapid change and uncertainty often produce the most innovative solutions, and just as the deprecation of third-party cookies presents many challenges, it presents just as many opportunities. 

In fact, there’s no better time to look back at some of the tried-and-true marketing strategies from the ads and commercials of yesteryear. Marketers and agencies have always been able to reach their audiences in different ways. One of the most effective of them was Contextual Advertising.

It’s All About Context

Up until now, we’ve been discussing behavioral advertising, which utilizes the data collected from cookies to send targeted ads based on user behavior. 

On the other hand, contextual advertising targets ads based on a website’s content and context. Examples of Contextual Advertising include:

  • Headphone ads appearing on a music blog

  • An ad for helmets appearing on a cycling video

  • A toolbelt ad appearing on a forum for carpenters

Intuitive Solutions for Complex Data

It’s imperative for agencies to harness the power of first-party data for customizing the customer experience. Ultimately, marketing agencies should have a stronghold on the metrics more than ever. 

And the more complex the data gets, the better agencies need to communicate their clients’ campaign data in a way they’ll understand. Tools such as AgencyAnalytic’s campaign dashboard template were built to empower agencies and make client reporting & data storytelling a breeze.

Simple reports, dashboards, templates, and automated reporting with all integrations are what many agencies dream about, and AgencyAnalytics has made that a reality with our intuitive white label analytics dashboards.

Get your own Campaign Dashboard Template set up in minutes with your free 14-day trial.  

Welcome to the First-Party Data Party

As we prepare for cookie deprecation, agencies need to look at different ways to make up for that change. First-party data is the most valuable type of data because it is free, unique, and comes directly from the customers themselves. Plus, it’s owned by your clients.

Agencies should start prioritizing the collection of first-party data now, and a few easy ways to do that are through lead generation forms, surveys, quizzes, and incentivizing customer reviews.

So, prepare to impress your clients with the information covered in this article as you confidently answer any questions your clients have about the death of third-party cookies. And with the help of AgencyAnalytics campaign dashboards, show them you mean business with powerful insights that will completely blow them away and make them happy that they signed with you.

Michael Okada
Michael Okada
Written by
Michael Okada

Michael is a Vancouver-based writer with over a decades’ experience in digital marketing. He specializes in distilling complex topics into relatable and engaging content.

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