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Why is first-party data the future of digital marketing?

First-party data is, in short, a type of data or information you collect from your own sources, instead of someone else’s. This data is generally collected through your owned digital channels, which can make it more reliable, and issue-free in terms of privacy rights and complaints.

With an increase in automation within PPC marketing campaigns, we can also use first-party data to ‘feed’ machine learning.

As we begin to lose the third-party cookie, the importance of first-party data is only going to increase. In 2020, Google announced they would phase out third-party cookies in Chrome. This has since been pushed back, and we can expect them to phase-out fully in 2024.

Prioritising a first-party approach is key

Many digital marketers have relied on third-party data for reporting, campaign optimisation and conversion tracking, for years. So, as a PPC marketer, now is the time to really understand how to harness the power of your owned data.

A first-party approach is going to be key over the next few years, and it’s important to align your marketing strategy before the changes roll out.

A few things you need to know about first-party data

First-party data is not always harvested from a company’s site. For example, it can be collected through the following digital marketing activities: 

  • Events
  • Email subscriptions
  • Form submissions
  • Web analytics platforms including Google Analytics

You can read more on this here.

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

If you have a company site, you will probably have a set of first-party data within your analytics or CRM dashboard, for example:

  • Pageviews
  • Browser type
  • Demographics
  • Language
  • Location 
  • Email or Phone Number

First-party data offers some benefits that third-party data simply cannot provide, including:

  • First-hand information
  • Compliance with privacy laws
  • Signals trustworthiness
  • Lower cost for marketers

First-hand information

Unlike second- and third-party data, first-party data is something that you gather yourself. This means that you probably have higher levels of control over how you use it. This can also mean first-party data offers more valuable insight than second and third-party data because it comes directly from your customers. 

Privacy laws and compliance 

What really separates first-party data from outside sources, is better insight and consent. Think of it this way, if a user subscribes to your newsletter, they are already giving consent for you to use their data. 

This means that, generally speaking, using first-party data is more compliant with privacy laws because your site visitors or customers are choosing to provide consent for you to obtain their data. If a user provides their personal information themselves, you are less likely to face any unexpected data privacy complaints.

Of course, being transparent about how you will process the data users are providing will help to reduce the chances of a data privacy complaint. For example, check with users that they are happy for their data to be stored, or used for marketing purposes.

A lower cost

Despite being an investment, first-party data is often cheaper compared to second or third-party data. This is simply because it is your data. Some marketers find that first-party data is harder to acquire, and it can take more time. Yes, this is often the case, but it is also worth considering the quality of insight provided with first-party data. 

From a PPC marketing perspective, gathering this data is worth the time, as it can really improve the long-term impact of a campaign and help you to get to know your target audience.

Signal trustworthiness to your audience

As mentioned, being transparent about how you will use first-party data is key. When doing so, you are signaling trustworthiness and a sense of honesty to your audience. These are all things that potential customers will look for when choosing a product or service. Consumers will undoubtedly appreciate transparency when it comes to how you gather and use information. 

What does first-party data really mean for marketers?

Gathering first-party data has always been an important process for advertisers, but it has definitely become even more critical in recent years. And this is a trend that is set to continue into 2023 and beyond. 

With new and upcoming privacy policies, advertisers will have to rely more heavily on first-party data. The increased use of things like customer match lists on Google Ads and Facebook Ads also means that advertisers are relying more on their own data.

Whilst it can be a challenge to gather quality first-party data, and it may require a lot of time and investment, the benefits are very clear. Essentially, digital marketers that reap the benefits of first-party data and take the time to use it, will notice more targeted and effective marketing campaigns with long-lasting results.

Get in touch with our PPC agency for more info

Are you worried about how upcoming changes will impact an existing campaign? Or do you want someone to step in and maximise the results driven by first-party data?

If you have any questions or want to speak to a PPC expert regarding a campaign, feel free to get in touch.

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