What is First Party Data

What is First Party Data: Ultimate Guide For Publishers

The triple danger of new privacy legislation, the elimination of third-party cookies, and the development of tracking protection are forcing publishers to reconsider their data collection strategies. First party data collection can be the most straightforward strategy publishers can employ to keep up with the changes.

What role will ad targeting play on the privacy-first web? We have previously listed the best alternatives to third party cookies and are now taking a closer look at what first party data is, how publishers can collect it and how it may differ from third party cookies.

Let's dive right in.

What is First Party Data?

First party data is the user information publishers collect and own with the consent of their visitors. It is valuable data that delivers and earns the highest return on investment for advertisers and can increase website revenue for publishers accordingly. First party data consists of online and offline resources such as

  • users inputting their email addresses
  • navigating a website
  • purchase history

The information that interests publishers and advertisers alike is user demographics, visited pages, interests, and time spent on a website.

The publisher gathers this data from their website, mobile app, social media, and surveys. The information is mainly used to attract visitors with optimized content, guarantee that their website functions smoothly, and display personalized ads that appeal to the users.

How Can Publishers Use First Party Data To Improve Revenue?

First party data offers valuable insights into real-time user interaction and preferences, which enables publishers to sell their ad space for higher rates. The data allows advertisers to relate and respond to customers in highly personalized and more immersive ways. Hence, they are willing to pay higher CPM rates for reliable, first-hand user data.

Consequently, it delivers a high return on investment for advertisers and can increase publishers' website revenue. Below is a breakdown of how first party data is used to increase revenue:

Personalized experience

Visitors enjoy a personalized experience, and a first party data strategy enables both publishers and advertisers to provide that. Audience engagement, time-on-site, and ad conversion rates increase when publishers and advertisers offer the right content that appeals to the website visitors.

Visitor Segmentation

Targeting a specific product to certain customers is crucial to increasing an advertiser's return on investment. First party data enables publishers to group their users based on demographics, interests, and much more, making the data more attractive to advertisers. Having access to specific groups allows advertisers to deploy a highly efficient marketing strategy for each customer segment.

Mapping the customer's journey

Advertisers can map a customer's journey by accessing first party data. Knowing customers' different steps to convert is crucial for successful goal conversion. By using first party data, advertisers use the relevant message at the correct place and time to navigate a customer's journey to conversion.

How Do Publishers Gather First Party Data?

Publishers rely on web cookies to gather first party data—a small piece of user data a website adds to a user's device to store information. Publishers use various tools such as Google Analytics and Google Ads for first party data collection. They also use a Customer Data Platform (CDP), which integrates and stores data on a centralized platform. A CDP enables audience segment and insights, which are valuable for advertisers.

There are various ways with which publishers can gather first party data:

  • Login wall: Publishers can collect details such as users' names and email addresses by making content available behind a login wall.
    Selective content locking: You can selectively lock access to content for your users as an alternative to a login wall. You can collect emails and related user data by limiting access to pages that receive the most views and time-on-site.
  • Interactive content: Surveys, quizzes, and multi-step forms engage the users and allow publishers to collect information about the user's preferred content, demographics, personal details, and experiences.
  • Website: Analysing images and text customers clicked on or hovered over. A customer's behavioral data and transactions enable advertisers to initiate specific marketing strategies.
  • Newsletters: Analysing an email campaign provides click rates, bounce rates, and open rates. Publishers can group audiences and use specific campaigns to the different engagement levels based on customer behavior, such as who opens emails and the ones with waning interest.
  • Payment platform: Publishers achieve a high degree of personalization by knowing a customer's purchase history. It helps them gauge high-selling products and the preferred payment method.
  • Mobile apps: Mobiles apps enable publishers to extract valuable user data by defining significant events and then measuring them. They gather essential user interaction in a cookie-less environment when users log in to their site.

What is the Difference Between First Party and Third Party Data?

First party and third party data differ in how they are collected, the accuracy and quality of the data, and even the consent given by the user. Publishers must understand the different types of data available to change their data collection and ad targeting strategies effectively.

First Party DataThird Party Data
Customer RelationshipDirectIndirect
Data CollectionWith consent Unknown
Accuracy and ReliabilityHighLower
Data SharingNot sharedShared with third parties
Type of DataIndividualAggregate

First party data is information a publisher gathers on their own through the various sources previously mentioned, meaning the publisher directly owns the data. The publisher does not own third party data, on the other hand. The information collected about the user is generally the same, but a third party has collected and shared it with publishers and advertisers.

While publishers can collect first party data for free, third party data is typically bought from another company or obtained by partnering with another company to gain a mutual advantage.

Another difference is that first party data is individual, while third party data is aggregate. This means that first party data is collected from one source (e.g. your website), while third party data can come together from various collection points.

Publishers obtain high accuracy and reliability with first party data as it is provided directly by the user. In comparison, third party data has low accuracy and reliability as it has not been obtained directly by the consumer. Because of this, there is always a possibility that third party data could have been collected without the users' consent. It is crucial to comply with the GDPR and CCPA act when collecting user data as a publisher. Make sure to read our guide on finding the right consent management platform for your website.

Can First Party Data Replace Third Party Cookies?

Gathering first party data is vital for publishers that rely on ad revenue and want to continue monetizing their site once third party cookies have been depreciated. However, solely relying on a first party data approach will not guarantee success in the future. Make sure to check our post on third party cookie alternatives to read up on what will happen once third party cookies are blocked from browsers and what options you have as a publisher.

Currently, no single alternative on the market can fully replace third party cookies and deliver the same monetization results. In general, we recommend that publishers adopt several different data collection solutions to see which ones work best for their website's traffic to spread the risk of losing ad revenue. Snigel provides access to all available alternatives to third party cookies through a single solution, AdEngine, our programmatic advertising platform.

Contact us if you'd like to find out how we can help your website prepare for a future without third party cookies.

About the Author

Ira is Snigel's Head Of Marketing. She supports our team and publishers by creating awesome guides on the latest adtech trends. Ira's background is in software development, communications, and media.


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