Digital marketers will experience a transformation as third-party cookies crumble in Chrome. The loss of this ubiquitous identifier (now expected in 2024) will increase the value of first-party data for brands and publishers as advertisers look for alternative ways to find and communicate with customers.
In this post, we’ll define first-party data, explain why it’s so important, and explore how marketers are winning with first-party data in the cookieless world.
What Is First-Party Data?
First-party data is information a company collects from owned sources, including offline and online channels. Sources can include the website, app, social media, surveys, or CRM. For example, if someone submits a request for a product demo on a company’s website, their name and contact information are collected as first-party data. Similarly, if someone gives you their business card at a trade show, their information is put into a CRM as first-party data.
Why You Need First-Party Data in the Cookieless World
First-party data helps marketers reach the right audiences and acquire customers sooner. The data also provides a strong indication of intent to take a specific action. Still, these qualities may diminish once first-party data collection reaches scale, at which point marketers must update it regularly.
First-party data can also help marketers understand their current and future customers more accurately. “Done right, first-party data can strengthen customer relationships, as it enables organizations to provide more personalized, relevant experiences,” Gartner staff explained in their article on the demise of third-party cookies. “But how marketers gather and manage first-party data will be key.”
Companies collect first-party data from their customers using consent; an implied transaction takes place where the brand can use the information to communicate with customers. This relationship becomes more valuable as data privacy regulations increase around the world.
Publishers also collect first-party data, which signals who is consuming their content. When third-party cookies go away in Chrome, expected in late 2024, the identity bridge allowing marketers to move from one system to another will no longer exist. However, publishers will own their readership data and the insights to help marketers find the most relevant audiences for their messaging.
The Value of First-Party Data
The larger the media company (measured by the number of partners, customers, and users), the more first-party data it will have — and the more valuable it will become. Today, the most extensive walled gardens have the most first-party data, with billions of logged-in users. Eliminating third-party cookies will only encourage and empower the largest technology companies, which may not be suitable for the digital advertising industry or society.
As third-party cookies go away, personally identifiable information (PII) will be critical, particularly email addresses, which will become a de facto identifier. A category of anonymized solutions will emerge that will, in some ways, mimic how third-party cookies work today.
Innovative marketing tools will likely lead to consumers owning more of their data, publishers holding more of that data’s value, and users recognizing the importance of what they’re consuming on the internet.
How Marketers Can Prioritize First-Party Data in a Cookieless World
Some marketers may not notice when cookies go away because they’ve already transitioned to cookieless solutions. Where they will notice a difference, though, is in their metrics, which may suddenly be inconsistent. Website conversion rates could go through the roof, for example, but actual sales conversions may nosedive.
The programmatic advertising space will change dramatically, allowing marketers to find other ways of reaching new customers. Again, only direct media relevant to a brand’s customers will gain prominence. So, brands must explore working directly with partners and media channels to leverage first-party data effectively.
And while marketers and publishers should try to build up their first-party data assets, they can also use the third-party data as a valuable supplement. First-party and third-party data complement one another, and you can’t do marketing effectively without both.
Finally, the rise in first-party data collection reminds us to delight our current customers and users with cohesive, frictionless experiences. It’s easy to get lost in the marketing scale; a marketer can revel in thousands of new people visiting a website, but most of those visitors won’t convert, so why optimize the journey for them?
The people requesting a product demo are crucial to your research and design. Thus, marketers should try to broadly fill their top-of-marketing funnel while being most strategic in the lower funnel. If you can create a pipeline of intent signals, you will get more valuable results upstream.
Final Thoughts on Winning With First-Party Data
As third-party cookies go away, first-party data will be even more valuable. Companies will receive real intent signals from their customers, helping them build better relationships and communicate effectively.
Are you interested in learning how to build a holistic first- and third-party data strategy for a post-cookie world? Let us help.