If your organization uses digital marketing or advertising content as part of its larger marketing strategy, you’ve most certainly heard the term ‘Cookiepocalypse’ – the nickname given to Google’s 2019 announcement about its plan to eliminate support for third-party cookies and trackers in its Chrome Web browser by 2022 – thrown around in recent years. Google has since delayed its elimination of support for third-party cookies from Chrome until 2023, but Apple and Mozilla have phased out third-party cookie support from their Safari and Firefox Web browsers, respectively, for quite some time.

But while the term may sound like a certain Sesame Street character’s reaction to running out of his favorite food, Cookiepocalypse’s impact on marketers and advertisers will be far reaching and substantial. For over 20 years, third-party cookies and trackers have formed the backbone of the online marketing and advertising ecosystem. They’ve provided marketers and advertisers with mechanisms to track users across the internet to gather data on third-party audience targeting, conversion tracking, ad frequency capping, measuring reach, sequential messaging, dynamic creative optimization, and more. As such, third-party data has played a critical role in helping marketers and advertisers produce the personalized, consumer-centric content and campaigns today’s consumers now expect.

But changing consumer expectations around data privacy and the “right to be forgotten” (two of the driving forces behind Cookiepocalypse), and the various regulations to ensure consumer privacy (like GDPR and CCPA), now make future reliance on third-party data a risky endeavor. As a result, collecting and managing true first-party data must become a priority for marketers and advertisers looking to continue to carry out successful consumer-centric, data-driven campaigns.

What is first-party data and why is having it so critical for marketers and advertisers?

To better understand why first-party data is so critical to marketers and advertisers, let’s first define what exactly it is and what makes it so valuable. 

First-party data is any information a brand or company collects directly from its audience/customers through its various channels that it then owns and controls itself. It can complement, enhance, and reduce the need for other types of data (such as third-party). This data can be gathered during marketing and advertising initiatives by placing a first-party tag) within a digital media resource like an email or webpage. It can also be collected during interactions such as audience/consumer surveys, product usage, purchases, sales engagements, support engagements, and more. And if using an advanced tag solution like Aqfer Universal Tag, a first-party tag can also be placed within a paid media resource.

First-party data provides marketers and advertisers with accurate, first-hand information about their customers, most notably on audience behaviors, audience journey, demographics, engagements, interests, and paths to purchase. Unlike third-party data, first-party data gathered can contain personally identifiable information (PII), such as names, email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, and other unique identifiers. Together, all of this first-party data provides marketers and advertisers with reliable macro- and micro-level information they can use to continue to better engage their current consumers (via retargeting and nurturing initiatives) as well as uncover new segments to target to expand their consumer base further.

While some of this information can be gathered with third-party data, it’s impossible to determine its accuracy and relevancy. The reason for this is that there’s no real way to be sure that the third-party data received is even applicable to a brand’s or company’s particular audience because it was collected and anonymized by an aggregator and not the brand/company itself. Therefore, the brand or company is likely wasting valuable marketing and advertising resources on engaging audiences/consumers that may have zero interest in its product(s) or service(s). 

Even if someone the brand or company wants to target is in the third-party data set, without any PII on them there’s no way to personalize the content they receive (or ensure it’s timely and relevant). And in today’s consumer-centric marketing and advertising world, personalization plays a huge role in providing an optimal consumer experience, which of course has a huge impact on consumer engagement and loyalty. 

The major benefits and high-value uses of first-party data

While Cookiepocalypse is often cited as the main reason for marketers and advertisers to lessen their reliance on third-party data, there are a number of high-impact benefits to collecting and owning first-party data. In addition to future-proofing marketing and advertising efforts against browser-led technology changes, these benefits include:

True Data Ownership

Owned first-party data is more accurate and yields less wasted effort or budget. Brands that take ownership of their data reduce reliance on third-party data providers. Owning first-party data also enables direct access to defining cohorts and the ability to learn from customer interactions.

Privacy Compliance

First-party data stays in the hands of those who collect it, giving more control and transparency for what happens with the data. This helps ensure compliance to regulations such as GDPR or CCPA, which require obtaining an individual’s consent prior to an organization processing their data. Owning first-party data also facilitates consumers’ “right to be forgotten” when requested.

Content Personalization

First-party data helps improve customer experience by providing marketers and advertisers with the information they need to provide their audience with relevant content and offers. It allows them to optimize campaign costs by focusing on best audiences and minimizing wasted ad spend. First-party data also streamlines customer interactions across devices and channels to reduce friction along multiple customer engagement paths.

In addition to these benefits, there are also a variety of marketing- and advertising-related processes that are significantly improved or enhanced with reliable first-party data. These include:

  • Audience retargeting
  • Closed-loop measurement
  • Customer journey facilitation
  • Incremental customer engagement
  • Lookalike modeling
  • Multi-touch attribution
  • ‘Next best offers’ based on historical intent
  • Omnichannel lead nurturing
  • Online-Offline lead generation integration

The time is now for marketers and advertisers to take control of their first-party data

Given the major benefits and array of enhancements having reliable first-party data provides, it’s clear that the time is now for brands and companies to embrace first-party data collection and ownership as the primary means to amplify their marketing and advertising efforts. Even if a brand or company feels that its current data strategy is sufficient, maintaining the status quo and simply hoping its enough will put it at huge risk of:

  • Encountering potentially major data compliance/regulation issues
  • Increasing marketing and advertising spend to remain competitive 
  • Losing market share to competitors who provide more personalized offers
  • Providing a sub-optimal consumer experience that decreases retention and loyalty
  • Significantly decreased marketing and advertising effectiveness

With the impending Cookiepocalypse looming and the overall value of third-party decreasing, now is the time to fully embrace first-party data in marketing and advertising before it’s too late. 

If your organization is struggling to build out its first-party data strategy, or if your first-party needs can no longer be met by your current MarTech and AdTech solutions, Aqfer can help. Aqfer’s future-ready big data marketing solutions help you collect, manage, and activate your first-party data, minimizing the complexity and cost of data management and discovery while also delivering real-time insights to optimize your marketing and advertising efforts.