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The Differences Between First, Second and Third-Party Data

The Differences Between First, Second and Third-Party Data

Knowing your data has never been more important. Here's our overview of the three forms you need to be aware of.

Data is taking the marketing world by storm. Advertisers are demanding it, tech companies are marketing off it, and for good reason.

Building campaigns on presumptions and guesswork is becoming a less and less popular approach, with today’s marketers preferring to work off what they know about the people they’re selling to. Data from a variety of sources can be applied to marketing all the way up and down the funnel, with this categorised in three ways: first, second and third-party sources.

Let’s take a look at where you can get data to build your own campaigns.

First-party data

First-party data is by far your most cherished source of information given that it comes from within the company.

This includes information left by the people that visit your site, drop you emails, give you calls and engage with you across all of your social channels. In short, if you collect it, that’s data from a first-party source - ie yourself.

In marketing terms, a classic example of first-party data being acted on is the retargeted ads that contain images of products the user has looked at.

Well-equipped businesses will house their first-party data inside analytics, CRM and other tools, using it to power ad campaigns and generally inform what they send out to each person. 

Click here to see how Shop Direct doubled its sales by utilising its own first-party data. 

Second-party data

Second-party data is perhaps the lesser known of the three forms, mainly due to its place in the chain of importance. 

This is still owned - and technically ‘first party’ - but belonging to someone else. Think about the partners used by companies, whether they’re publishers or another party that acts on the behalf of the advertiser. Sharing this data can carry mutual benefits for each side - one supplying the audience, the other supplying the product and reward.

Second-party data also includes things you probably use everyday, like keyword search data or ‘signals’ on your customers picked up via an analytics tool.

Third-party data

If you’re getting data from a third party it’s likely that you are acquiring data from a source that collects it via a number of ways.

You may have heard rumours about some companies paying publishers to place pixels on their sites in order to glean information on the people that visit. Everything that’s collected will usually find its way into a data management platform (DMP), where the information is segmented and offered to anyone that wants a fresh list of prospects to target, invariably at a cost.

Whole businesses have been formed off the back of this model, and it’s not uncommon to see new advertisers taking to third parties in order to build their audiences quickly.

Want to see how all of this is being used? See the latest data-driven editorial.  

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Got a question or comment – tweet Richard @RichToweyPI or comment on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIN.

Richard Towey

Richard Towey

Richard serves as head of content at PerformanceIN. After many years spent covering developments from the automotive, sports, travel and finance sectors, he eventually turned his full attention to reporting on stories from the fast-evolving world of digital marketing. Richard now heads up the editorial team at PerformanceIN: the performance marketing industry's leading publication.  

Read more from Richard

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