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Harnessing the Power of First-Party Data

Customer on smartphone with graphic overlay of data web.
  • September 27, 2023

Marketing strategies are ever-evolving. Currently, most advertisers use something called 3rd party data, which is data collected by separate entities other than your business. As Google moves to a cookie-less world, 3rd party data’s value will diminish as companies will have fewer options for targeting consumers.  

First party data is data that a company collects for themselves, meaning they own it. Where 3rd party data is at the whim of other entities, 1st party data is entirely yours to update and manage as you see fit. 

Let’s look at how 1st party data works, who it targets, and how it can benefit your company.

What Is 1st Party Audience Targeting?

First-party audience targeting refers to the practice of targeting specific groups of individuals based on their interactions, behaviors, or characteristics within a company's own ecosystem or platform. Companies collect data directly from users who have engaged with one of their websites, applications, or services and use it to create inferences about their behavior. Companies typically gather this data through user registrations, account activities, or interactions with content.

How First-Party Audience Targeting Generally Works

First-party targeting uses the insight gained into customer behavior to find your audience effectively and tailor ad content to them. It provides the same benefits as third party analytics, but with more insight into your specific customers, helping you provide better ad experiences, whether general digital or personalized email campaigns. 

Here’s a breakdown of the structure and process of using 1st party data. 

  • Data collection: Companies collect user data from their own websites and apps. The data can include demographic information, browsing history, purchase history, and more. 
  • User segmentation: Once the companies collect the data, they divide the audience into groups or segments. Generally, these groups will have similar interests, which helps develop a more focused targeting strategy. 
  • Targeted advertising: After creating the segments, the company can use this to deliver personalized advertisements to specific users. It allows them to cater to users who fit specific roles and increase the likelihood of engagement and conversions. 

Why Should We Use 1st Party Audience Targeting?

There are many benefits to using 1st party audience targeting, and the more creative you can get with your audience information, the more benefits you’ll find.  

Here are some of the crucial benefits 1st party data can bring companies: 

  • Increased relevance: Using your 1st party data allows you to deliver highly relevant and personalized content to specific users (i.e., the segments you created earlier). Because you know your audience’s preferences, interests, and behaviors, you can tailor your message and creative to match what they are looking for to increase your chances of getting their attention. 
  • Improved ad performance: Since you are targeting with their preferences, interests, and behaviors in mind, you can optimize the campaign by using relevant creative. That can improve your click-through, conversion, and overall campaign success. 
  • Enhanced customer experience: Audience targeting helps create a positive customer experience by delivering content that speaks directly to the individual's interests and preferences. When users feel content is tailored to their needs, they are more likely to engage with it and have a positive perception of your brand. That encourages increased loyalty, repeat business, and positive word-of-mouth. 
  • Cost efficiency: By targeting your creative assets to specific audience segments, you can optimize your advertising spend instead of casting a wide net and reaching a broad but potentially less interested audience. Creative targeting allows you to focus your resources on the most relevant users, making your ad spend more efficient since you’re more likely to pay to reach interested customers, reducing wasted impressions and improving return on investment (ROI). 
  • Competitive advantage: In a crowded marketplace, where consumers are constantly bombarded with advertising messages, targeting audiences creatively can help your company stand out from the competition. By delivering personalized and compelling content, you can differentiate your brand, capture attention, and create a memorable impression on your target audience. 

Overall, your audience targeting allows you to maximize the impact of your marketing efforts. It helps you create more engaging and relevant experiences for your audience, improves campaign performance, enhances the customer journey, and gives you a competitive edge in the market. 

How To Stay Compliant When Using 1st Party Data

Staying compliant while using data-driven targeting involves following legal and ethical guidelines to ensure the responsible and lawful use of personal data.  

Here are some best practices to consider: 

  • Understand privacy regulations: Familiarize yourself with relevant privacy regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States, and other local or regional laws. Understand the fundamental principles, requirements, and obligations outlined in these regulations. 
  • Obtain proper consent: Obtain informed and explicit consent from individuals before collecting and using their personal data for targeting purposes. Clearly communicate the purpose and scope of data collection and provide individuals with options to opt in or opt out of data collection and targeting activities. Ensure that consent is freely given, specific, and rescindable. 
  • Implement transparent data practices: Maintain transparency in your data practices by providing individuals with clear and easily accessible information about how their data is collected, used, and shared. Clearly articulate the types of data you collect, the purposes it’s used for, and the third parties you share it with. 
  • Anonymize and pseudonymize data: Where possible, anonymize or pseudonymize personal data to minimize the risk of directly identifying individuals. That can help protect privacy while still allowing for effective data-driven targeting. 
  • Secure data and respect data rights: Implement appropriate security measures to protect personal data from unauthorized access, disclosure, or misuse. Respect individuals' rights, such as the right to access, rectify, or delete their data. Establish processes to handle data subject requests in a timely and compliant manner. 
  • Partner with compliant vendors: If you work with third-party vendors or data partners, ensure they have strong data protection practices and comply with applicable regulations. Implement data processing agreements or contracts defining roles, responsibilities, and data protection obligations. 
  • Regularly audit and review practices: Conduct regular audits of your data collection, storage, and usage practices to ensure compliance with privacy regulations. Stay up to date with evolving laws and regulations and adapt your practices accordingly. 
  • Provide clear privacy policies: Maintain a comprehensive and easily accessible privacy policy that outlines your data handling practices. Communicate how you collect, use, store, and protect personal data and the rights individuals have regarding their data. 
  • Educate and train your team: Ensure that your employees and team members are educated about privacy regulations and data protection best practices. Provide training to raise awareness and understanding of compliance requirements and the importance of protecting personal data. 

By adhering to these practices, you can use data-driven targeting while maintaining compliance with privacy regulations, respecting individuals' rights, and protecting personal data. It is advisable to consult legal professionals or privacy experts to ensure your practices align with applicable laws and regulations.

Stay in Control with First-Party Data

There are steps and planning involved in collecting 1st part data from your users, but after reading the benefits for the company, why wouldn’t you take those steps? Set up your website now to start collecting the data for you to use since the longer it builds, the more valuable your data will be, especially once cookies are phased out. It will help build trust with your advertisers and give you control over when their data is used. It’s also one of the least expensive forms of targeting a company can do. 

Reach out to one of the experts at McClatchy to learn how to collect data from your site and learn more about your audience. 


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