Given the impending death of the third-party cookie, first-party data is top of mind for leaders across industries. But just having first-party data isn’t enough – leaders must also understand how to activate and use data intelligence to support business growth. In order to do this well, developing a system for first-party tagging and managing first-party data is of critical importance.  

The future of identity is marketer owned and managed. Brands will establish and maintain their own first party identity profiles for each and every visitor and customer. As brands grow their first-party data management capabilities, one of the first areas of focus should be in developing a first-party tagging strategy.

What is First-Party Tagging?

A first-party tag is a piece of code added to a website by the brand or publisher. These tags collect data about the website’s performance, user behavior, and other metrics that help improve the website’s overall performance. Tags can be placed at various points throughout a brand’s website to provide deeper insight into user behavior.  

First-party tagging grants access to more accurate, trustworthy first-party data. This data can be used to develop better identity match rates, better attribution, enhanced audience targeting, and a clear line of sight into audience journeys.

Unlike third-party tags, which are added to a website by a third-party provider, first-party tags are directly controlled by the brand, providing more control over data collection and usage.

Challenges & Drawbacks with First-Party Tags

First-party tags help brands better understand and use their data. The more tags the better, right? Not necessarily. As you can imagine, packing a site with tags can have some major drawbacks:

  1. Too many tags can make websites slow to load, negatively impacting the user experience.  
  2. Tagging can quickly get confusing –  when you have too many, it’s hard to know which are active, important, and privacy compliant.
  3. Having too many tags on a site can make it more vulnerable to certain types of attacks.
  4. When tags misfire, data capture is diminished, reducing the accuracy of analytics.

Given these challenges, it is important for brands to develop strategies to streamline first-party tagging. Given the costs, complexities and the margin for error, many brands look to Marketing Service Providers (MSPs) and digital agencies to manage their first-party tag strategy.  

Marketing Service Providers and First-Party Tag Management

Given the slow depreciation of the third-party cookie, many MSPs, agencies and data service providers have been able to get ahead of demand for more robust first-party data management solutions. First-party tagging is now viewed as a table stakes capability – it’s expected and required in order to effectively help brands leverage their data. 

For this reason, many MSPs are attempting to develop in-house first-party tag management solutions. Before jumping to development, there are significant risks, costs and complexities to consider ahead of time. Technology and consumer privacy regulatory requirements are continually changing, requiring frequent and complex engineering efforts that often undermine the success of the DIY approach.

Given the complexities and challenges associated with tagging, just developing a first-party tag solution isn’t enough. It’s critical for data service providers to have stable, compliant, future-ready solutions that are ever-evolving to keep up with the pace of the fast-moving digital environment. 

Components of a Future-Ready Tagging Solution

MSPs should be developing solutions that minimize the number of tags placed on a brand’s website, while still optimizing the data for activation. Brands want to be in control of their data, so it’s important to offer as much agency over that data as possible while still maintaining best practices. Future-ready tagging solutions should be nimble and responsive, compliant and secure, and easy to evaluate in terms of performance and client reporting. 

Here are a few key elements of future-ready first-party tagging solutions:

Deeper Insight

Future-ready solutions should track at the impression level, not the click. Insight into this additional touch greatly enhances the level of detail captured [where/when/what device]. This deeper level of understanding allows marketers to develop better strategies for getting in front of the right audiences from the first impression.

Nimble & Evolving

Gone are the days of a static, one-size-fits all tagging solution. Every browser has its quirks, and it’s important to stay ahead of them.  For example, Safari blocks 1P tags delivered via javascript for the container.  It’s important to understand the ever-changing complexities of issues like this, and develop solutions that can work within and despite them. 


Brands understand the importance of being in complete control of their data. When developing first-party tagging solutions, it’s important to give brands as much control as possible. Tagging solutions should operate on the brand’s domain and data end-point, which can be owned and managed by the brand.

Cross-Border Compliance

With many brands operating internationally, across industries and regions, it’s important for a tagging solution to be prepared for compliance across these varying environments. Staying on top of these complexities is a risk for MSPs developing tagging solutions – it’s important to invest in the right expertise, both from a legal and development perspective. 

The Easiest Way to Develop a First-Party Tagging Solution

If you’ve made it this far into the article, you know that first-party tagging is critically important, but it can also be a tricky landscape to navigate. While there is no “easy button” for first-party tagging, there are experts that MSPs can lean on that make developing first-party tagging easier to implement and maintain. 

Aqfer has built a nimble, compliant, future-ready tagging solution designed to be white labeled by MSPs, digital agencies and data service providers. Our Build-It-Together approach allows our clients to bring new offers to market more quickly, more affordably, and with less risk. Aqfer’s solution is built and maintained by experts in first-party tag management, customized for your customers and use cases. Manage all tags in one location using a durable tag management platform offering granular in-region control for privacy-compliant data collection at scale. 

The Aqfer Difference

  • Our universal tag is designed for white label use,  is usable in both owned and paid media, and works well with almost any existing tag configuration.
  • Our universal tag is available as a container tag that can shoulder the payload burden of all of your other tags. 
  • Confidently manage billions of tag calls per day and enjoy  better identity match rates, better attribution, enhanced audience targeting, and a clear line of sight into audience journeys.
  • Significantly reduce tagging costs associated with cloud, engineering and maintenance expenses. 
  • Tags are fired in country/region to help address compliance and regulatory obligations such as GDPR, CCPA, and Cross Border Data Transfer.

Click here to learn more about the Aqfer approach to first-party tag management.