What Is First-Party (1P) Data? A Guide to Data-Driven Marketing

Kate Meda

Google keeps changing its Third-Party cookie phase-out, but that doesn’t mean marketers won’t need a plan for when the inevitable day comes. 

Privacy, transparency, and total data control using First-Party data will lead the charge of the digital cookie renaissance. Companies already utilizing First-Party data will be better equipped to handle the changes. 

Prioritizing First-Party data can open up many opportunities to personalize marketing messages, inform sales strategies, retarget ads, and target the best-fit customers for your products and services. 

This article will run you through the basics of First-Party data, including sources and benefits, and review how to use First-Party data in your marketing strategies so you’re prepared. 

What is First-Party Data? 

First-Party data (also called 1P data) is information collected directly from customers or website visitors through a brand’s website, mobile app, CRM, or other customer engagement tools. 

Common attributes collected from 1P data include: 

  • Demographics: Age, gender, job title, industry.
  • Behaviors: How customers interact with your website, app, or product.
  • Customer feedback: What customers like or dislike about your products or services.
  • Customer purchase history: What customers buy across your catalog. 
  • Social media conversations: What customers say about your products or services on social media.
  • Chat or email transcripts: How customers talk about your company when they contact you.

Marketers then use this information to inform marketing strategies, product development, and customer engagement initiatives. 

For example, when customers create an account or log in to a company’s website, they may be required to provide information such as their name, email address, and date of birth. Marketers can then use this information to create a customer profile and then use it in personalized marketing campaigns.

📊 Why should companies use First-Party data?📊
“First-Party data is an imperative part of your digital marketing strategy and the most reliable way to collect data. Not only does First-Party data allow marketers to reach users engaging with your site with specific messaging, it also gives a brand insight into their current customer base. This data can be used for both analysis as well as for Lookalike modeling.”
–Jess Ostrom, Director of Account Management, KORTX

Types of First-Party Data

Marketers can collect First-Party data from a variety of sources, including:

  • Website data
  • Surveys
  • Mobile apps
  • CRM data
  • SMS text messaging
  • Gated content
  • Quizzes
  • Website tracking pixels

And more below, which we’ll review later in the article. To further understand data collection and analysis techniques, you must know the distinctions between First, Second, and Third-Party data.

How Are Second- and Third-Party Data Different from First-Party Data?

As we previously mentioned, First-Party data goes right to the source. Marketers obtain data directly from customers through surveys, web forms, and more, and therefore own the data themselves without any middleman. 

Second- and Third-Party data are more indirect. 

Second-Party data is First-Party data shared with a brand marketer by another company, typically a trusted partner.

For example, if you own a car rental company and partner with a hotel booking company, you can both start sharing customer data. You’ll have access to people who recently stayed at a hotel in the area and can target them with ads for car rentals in case they want to hire a car while on vacation. 

Third-Party data is collected by companies with no direct relationship with you or your customers. Usually, marketers purchase or license the data from a trusted data provider or use tools like cookies to collect data from websites their target audience visits. 

For example, 

  • A clothing retailer wants to target women aged 25-35 who live in urban areas and are interested in fashion and fitness. 
  • They purchase data matching this exact profile from a third-party data broker. 
  • Then, they use the collected email addresses and demographic information to send targeted email campaigns promoting their products. 

In this scenario, the data broker is the third-party entity, while the retailer uses the company’s data. 

🛑 A word of caution with Third-Party data: 🛑
Third-Party data may not always be accurate or up-to-date, and additional privacy concerns marketers should be aware of. 

Some data providers aren’t always concerned with data accuracy, opting instead to build massive datasets to sell to businesses.

Also, any time you use third-party data, you may expose your business to security and privacy risks (which is what happened with Twitter in 2019 and in the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal). 

Laws like the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) also pose challenges to Third-Party data compliance.

Avoiding these challenges involves using high-quality, First-Party data sources to ensure security and privacy.

first party data targeting

Even though 69% of advertisers think the death of the Third-Party cookie will have a more significant impact than the GDPR and CCPA, fewer than half (46%) feel prepared for the change. 

More than ever in history, marketers will need to lean on First-Party data collection. 

First-Party data is superior to Second- and Third-Party data because it is directly collected from the source, the individual, or the customer. This direct relationship allows for greater accuracy and reliability than data obtained from a third-party entity, which may not always be up-to-date or accurate.

first party data targeting

Having a clear understanding of First-Party data, let’s review why it is valuable to companies.

The Value of First-Party Data

Companies highly value 1P data as it offers a direct, trustworthy source of information about their customers and their behavior. And yet, only some feel confident in their data. 

Research from Nielsen revealed that 69% of 2,000 senior marketers agreed First-Party data is essential to their strategies, but only 26% of marketers globally agreed they were “fully confident” in their audience data. 

By incorporating First-Party data into your data collection strategy, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of your customers, which further improves the efficacy of your marketing and sales efforts. 

Let’s review a few more benefits of First-Party data:

Owning the data

Investing in First-Party data means your brand owns the data. Unlike Third-Party data available to anyone who wants to buy it, First-Party data is unique to your customers and your business. 

First-Party data can’t be taken away like Third-Party data can. Marketing consultant, Claire Jarret, explains that owning customer data reduces your risk of losing it, 

“A huge benefit of first-party data is that it can be moved between your social media platforms. So, for example, you can upload a list of qualifying email addresses to Facebook and use it as a custom audience to target them with your ads.  You could also upload the same list to Google and target them using your ads. If one of your social media accounts is closed down—it doesn’t matter, as you can simply upload it to another,”

She says that once you own the data, it’s yours to move between channels–something not all Second- or Third-Party data allows you to do. 

Better target audience segmentation 

Audience segmentation separates and classifies audiences into groups based on shared characteristics. 

This direct relationship provides customer information, including preferences, behaviors, and demographics (age, gender, job title, etc). 

How does 1P data provide better audience segmentation for programmatic advertising?
“First-Party data collection allows a brand to organize audience segments based on behaviors on the website to send specific messaging – For example, a user adds a pair of jeans to their shopping cart but decides not to move forward with the transaction for the time being. Thanks to FIrst-Party data collection, we can find this user across the web and display messaging to them that showcases the product they were shopping for and perhaps incorporate a discount for them to come back and complete their transaction.”
–Jess Ostrom, Director of Account Management, KORTX

More customer information allows marketers to create more personalized, relevant, effective, and well-timed campaigns.

Segmenting your audience achieves an estimated 14.31% higher average performance than non-segmented campaigns. 

Compliance with privacy laws

Privacy regulations like GDPR in the European Union (EU), CCPA in California, and many others means marketers need to move away from Third-Party data to more transparent data collection methods like First-Party data. 

According to the GDPR, companies must have the customers’ permission and ensure security if they want to obtain sensitive customer data in the EU/EEA. 84% of marketers see the GDPR as a positive measure, so these regulations aren’t going away any time soon. 

With First-Party data, you own it and ask permission for it, so there’s no fear of privacy law compliance. Although, brands still need to follow First-Party data consent laws and other user data regulations like HIPAA. 

✨ Example: How CPRA Affects B2B Data Usage  ✨

    • If you’re hosting a webinar and co-registering with another company, you must get the customer’s consent for using that data by both companies. You can’t have one registration form.
    • If you hand off the webinar registration data to another company, they also need consent upfront for the specific marketing purposes used.
    • If you’re doing this webinar in New York, but you have California attendees, you’re subject to CPRA’s provisions.
    • If you collect excessive data or retain the data longer than is reasonably necessary for marketing activities, you need to be able to explain why.
    • If you retain this data, you’ll need to perform an annual cybersecurity audit with an independent agency to ensure CPRA compliance.

      Source: US B2B Marketing Data Spending Forecast 2023, eMarkter.com

Reduces the cost to gather customer data

First-Party data will become more useful as budgets tighten amid economic uncertainty in 2023. 

Third-Party data source quality varies among competitors, resulting in marketers being unable to use them to target the right individuals or organizations effectively.

First-Party data eliminates the need to purchase or license data from these unreliable Third-Party providers. Companies can collect data with little to no additional cost.

🛑  STOP relying on unreliable Third-Party data & use First-Party data instead.

Take control of your First-Party data and elevate your audience targeting with Axon Audience Manager by KORTX:

  • Turn every site visitor into a detailed user profile that can be targeted with personalized messaging.
  • Develop engaging and relevant relationships with each customer.
  • Track your KPI performance in real-time with campaign reporting.
  • Discover what resonates with prospects and customers across dozens of categories with in-depth audience insights.

Try Axon Audience Manager Today!

How to Collect First-Party Data

Shopify found that 42% of brands use First- and Third-Party behavioral data to offer their customers personalized content and product recommendations. 

Gathering First-Party data through various means can provide brands with a comprehensive understanding of their customer’s habits and preferences. Here are a few ways you can start collecting First-Party data today. 

Tracking pixels

Have you ever scrolled through Facebook and immediately seen an ad you just thought about? 

That’s not Facebook mind-reading; it’s a tracking pixel.

Tracking pixels (also called 1×1 pixels or pixel tags) are code snippets embedded into a website, email, or social media platform, allowing users to track user behavior, site conversions, traffic, and other metrics. 

Pixels are found within the source code and typically look like this:

<img style=”“position: absolute;” src=”“Tracking”>
<img style=”“display: none”;” src=”“Tracking”>
<img src=”“Tracking” width=”“0”” height=”“0””>

The size and visibility of the pixel can be changed using the style attribute in HTML, but users aren’t supposed to see the tracking pixel. 

How does a tracking pixel work? 

  1. To add the tracking pixel, you need to include a code in the HTML code with an external link to the pixel server. 
  2. When a person visits your website, their browser processes the HTML code, which follows the link and opens the hidden graphic. 
  3. The server’s log files then identify and record this action. 

If a user visits your website, opens an email, or interacts with a social media ad, they request the server to download the tracking pixel attached to the content. 

Although the user doesn’t know this process is going on behind the scenes, the data obtained from the pixels helps brands and businesses refine their digital ad experiences and learn more about their customers like:

  • Operating system type (MS, iOS, Mac, Linux, etc)
  • The time and date stamp of the website visit or time the email was read
  • Type of platform (desktop or mobile)
  • Type of client (mail program or browser)
  • IP address
  • On-site activities
  • Screen resolution

🤔 How does analyzing user-level onsite behaviors increase consumer engagement and improve campaign performance? 🤔
“First-Party site visitation data is an extremely valuable asset for all digital marketers. Confirming how users interact with onsite content and conversion events is crucial for mapping the customer journey and optimizing digital campaigns. By analyzing multiple onsite touchpoints, we can see patterns, preferences, and roadblocks emerge that enable KORTX to design a First-Party data strategy that speaks directly to their unique needs and drive the next desired action.”
–Corey Rice, Director of Strategy, KORTX

For example, say you have a banner ad on your website. Attaching tracking pixels to this ad allows you to see how many people saw, clicked, and converted from the ad. Then, you can use this information to inform your next campaign. If you had a high view count but low conversions, maybe you need to consider changing the ad placement, targeting, or messaging. 

🍪 What are the differences between a pixel and a cookie? 🍪
Tracking pixels and cookies are similar, so it’s easy to confuse the two. They track user activity and behavior but differ in how they deliver and keep information.

Cookies are dropped on a user’s browser and can’t follow users across devices, and users opt to block or clear cookies. Often they’re used to store information for an easier login experience and help users add multiple items to their cart for a single checkout experience.

Tracking pixels don’t rely on the user’s browser and send information directly to servers. They can follow users across all of their devices, and users cannot disable them, allowing marketing efforts to be linked across desktop and mobile ads.

The two most common pixel types are retargeting and conversion pixels. 

Retargeting pixels focus on the behavior of your website’s visitors. 

For example, if you shop online for vintage clothes and you go to another website and notice all of the ads are related to vintage clothing, that’s a retargeting pixel. 

They monitor your behavior to personalize paid ads. 

Next, there are conversion pixels that track sales from a specific ad campaign, identify the conversion source, and measure the success or failure of specific campaigns.

To gather correct data, conversion pixels must be placed within the order confirmation page’s code like an automated “Thank You” you find in your inbox post-purchase. 

Tracking pixels are like tiny digital footprints left by website visitors, which marketers can trail behind to gain insights and understand customer and prospector behaviors. 

Now that we’ve reviewed tracking pixels let’s examine a few other First-Party data sources. 

Our Solution: Axon Audience Manager

One of the easiest ways to collect First-Party data is through Axon Audience Manager. 

KORTX created Axon, a customer data platform (CDP) because we realized marketers needed a more reliable way to collect the high-quality First-Party data they need, condensed into one platform. 

Axon is also free with every KORTX media campaign, so you don’t have the expensive price tag of popular audience solutions.

What is Axon Audience Manager?

Axon Audience Manager by KORTX is a data collection and processing tool that creates comprehensive user profiles by ingesting data from online and offline sources. Marketers can use Axon’s 1P data to develop advanced audience segments and activate them through KORTX campaigns. 

Axon’s powerful event-capture system manages unique profiles for each website visitor and updates based on their engagement with the brand over time. 

Marketers can integrate CRM data to round out a brand’s First-Party data strategy, allowing them to deliver messaging that adjusts to each customer’s changing lifestyle interests and behaviors.

kortx axon audience manager dashboard

Use insights from Axon to develop custom audiences through KORTX’s Audience Discovery process. Combined with lookalike modeling, you can personalize conversations with current customers and identify new, prospective customers that have yet to engage with your brand. 

🥳 By using Axon, our customers saw a 5-7x ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) on average. 🥳

As mentioned above, we know that correctly implementing site tagging/tracking pixels leads to successful marketing strategies so we came up with a way for marketers to use it with Axon.

Axon uses a JavaScript base code that captures twenty-three site events across multiple categories. 

Users can track, organize, and implement First-Party data segments based on user interactions and site events by placing the base code. 

first party data tool

Axon can also track custom events beyond the base code events to cater to every business’s unique needs. So, we built twelve custom event trackers spanning many cross-industry objectives like: 

  • Viewing content
  • Add to cart
  • Complete registration
  • Lead tracking
  • Custom tracking
  • Conversions
  • Add to wishlist
  • Sign-ins
  • Searches
  • Checkout initiation
  • Purchases

We collaborate with our clients’ solutions team to evaluate their specific requirements, website functionalities, and the best approach for configuring Axon’s custom event tags to enhance the online business process.

Clients can either receive a personal training session or rely on the KORTX support team for guidance on how to use the platform for their media campaign.

🔍KORTX Case Study: Trustmark Bank
Learn how the KORTX team used Axon Audience Manager’s First-Party data to uncover hot leads resulting in a 98% video completion rate, 90% listen-through rate, and a 0.2% click-through rate.

First-Party Data Should Be Your First Choice

First-Party data offers greater control, privacy, and transparency of the information companies collect about their customers. 

With First-Party data, marketers own the data so there’s no fear that it’s out-of-date or unreliable. Unlike Second-Party and Third-Party data, which are indirect and may expose businesses to security and privacy risks, First-Party data is considered the most reliable and secure data source, immune to changing privacy laws. 

By using First-Party data, marketers can design personalized marketing campaigns and gain a thorough understanding of their customer base.

📣 Now’s your chance to have easy-to-access, high-quality First-Party data. 

Drive immediate campaign results, build custom first-party audiences, and use real-time insights and reporting to optimize ROAS and KPI performance with Axon Audience Manager.

Try Axon Today!


About the Author

Kate Meda is a Copywriter at KORTX. She enjoys omitting needless words and making things sound good.

Kate Meda

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