Future-Proofing Digital Advertising: Mastering First-Party and Zero-Party Data

Back to Blog - by The Digilant Team

Welcome back to our journey through the evolving digital advertising landscape as we venture towards a cookieless future. Following our initial exploration into the background and the impending shift away from third-party cookies, which you can revisit here, our second episode, “Mastering First-Party and Zero-Party Data” delves into practical strategies and solutions advertisers can start leveraging as the digital ecosystem undergoes this monumental transition.

Join Victoria de Leon, Director of Marketing at Digilant, along with Welsey Farris, VP of Partnerships and Sales Engineering, and Otniel Calderon, Solutions Engineer at Digitalent, as they navigate through the realms of first and zero-party data, shedding light on these pivotal assets in maintaining privacy compliance and effective consumer reach.

First and Zero-Party Data: The New Gold Standard

To set the stage for the remainder of the conversation,  de Leon level set everyone’s understanding of the topic with the question:

What is a basic understanding of first-party data?

As described by Farris, first-party data has emerged as the cornerstone of future digital marketing strategies. It encompasses data directly collected from customers by a brand or advertiser, including authenticated identifiers like emails or phone numbers, purchase data, and web behavior insights collected through a brand’s digital properties. First-party data stands out for its direct collection method, offering brands a comprehensive, owned dataset for personalized marketing initiatives.

Zero-party data has emerged in conversations alongside first-party data, prompting de Leon to ask:

How does zero-party data differ from first-party data?

Calderon introduces us to zero-party data, a subset of first-party data characterized by the voluntary nature of its collection. This data type is proactively provided by users through interactions like surveys or questionnaires, revealing their preferences, interests, and purchase intentions. Zero-party data represents a deeper level of engagement and consent from consumers, enabling even more tailored and relevant marketing efforts.

Short on time? Tune into our podcast and master the art of first and zero-party data on-the-go, paving your way in a cookieless future.

With everyone aligned on how first and zero-party data are defined, de Leon addresses a common misconception with these data types, asking:

Do first-party and zero-party data have to adhere to the same privacy regulations as third-party cookies?

Farris clarifies that these data types still fall under the jurisdiction of laws like CCPA and GDPR. The key distinction lies in the direct relationship between the user and the brand, offering clearer consent and data usage pathways compared to third-party cookies. Advertisers must ensure transparent data collection practices, providing users with opt-out options and respecting their privacy choices.

For advertisers who haven’t focused on building their first-party footprint, de Leon prompted the panelists to provide tangible actions with the question:

How can advertisers focus on building their first-party data footprint?

For advertisers lacking a substantial first-party data footprint, the path forward involves engaging content creation and value exchanges. Both panelists emphasized the importance of offering users valuable content or incentives in exchange for their data, such as access to exclusive content, discounts, or membership perks. This strategy not only enriches the user experience but also paves the way for expanding an advertiser’s first-party data reservoir.

Once the advertisers have built the footprint, de Leon questioned how that data can then be implemented with two questions: 

How is first-party data leveraged in campaigns to target consumers? What do advertisers need to be careful about when leveraging first-party data?

Transitioning into the practical application of first and zero-party data, Farris emphasizes its transformative potential across advertising platforms. He notes the crucial advantage of first-party data in enabling direct, accurate targeting and personalization, thereby ensuring a cohesive and engaging consumer journey. However, Farris also cautions advertisers about the paramount importance of adhering to privacy regulations and maintaining transparent practices with consumers. The handling of first-party data requires careful consideration to not only optimize campaign performance but also to uphold the trust and privacy of the consumer base.

To addresses a main concern that advertisers have in the face of third-party cookie deprecation, the panelists were asked:

Are there any tactics advertisers can take to mitigate loss in scale?

Farris emphasizes that while the transition away from third-party cookies may lead to a decrease in scale, there are several tactics advertisers can employ to counterbalance this effect. He suggests that first and zero-party data, due to their accuracy and reliability, can actually enhance campaign performance. Advertisers are encouraged to leverage these data types for more targeted and personalized marketing efforts. Furthermore, he highlights the importance of lookalike modeling as a viable strategy. By creating models based on existing first-party data, advertisers can identify new prospects that resemble their current customers, potentially mitigating the loss in scale.

Calderon adds to the conversation by underscoring the necessity of upper funnel strategies such as contextual targeting and lookalike modeling to augment first-party data pools. He points out that for sustained growth in first-party data, advertisers need to continually attract new users through effective prospecting tactics. The solvency of first-party data growth hinges on these upper funnel activities, ensuring a steady influx of new users to the site and expanding the overall reach of campaigns.

To continue to address some of the top concerns for many advertisers, de Leon offered the panelists and opportunity to shed light on the topic with the question:

Considering the fragmented digital ecosystem, how can advertisers ensure they create a cohesive experience with their brand by leveraging first-party and zero-party data?

Both panelists acknowledged the challenges and opportunities in creating a cohesive brand experience in a fragmented digital ecosystem. With consumers interacting with brands across multiple devices and platforms, leveraging first and zero-party data becomes crucial for advertisers aiming to maintain a unified brand presence. The focus here is on utilizing these data types to deliver personalized and relevant content that resonates with consumers, regardless of the touchpoint. This approach not only enhances the consumer journey but also strengthens the overall brand experience.

The conversation also touches on the integration of first and zero-party data across different advertising channels, including digital out-of-home and connected TV. While some channels may present challenges in personalization due to the nature of their delivery, the advancement in connected TV and other digital platforms offers new avenues for leveraging first-party data to achieve a more personalized and engaging consumer experience.

To summarize an insightful conversation, de Leon offered both panelists the opportunity to summarize thier thoughts on first-party and zero-party data with the following prompt: 

How do you think the shift to first-party and zero-party data will transform advertisers and consumer relationships? What are the top benefits of these data types?

Farris articulates that the primary benefit of shifting towards first and zero-party data lies in its future-proof nature. Regardless of the evolving digital landscape, these data types offer a consistent and reliable basis for targeting, personalization, and measurement. He posits that this shift not only ensures advertisers can continue to reach their audience effectively but also fosters a more sustainable and ethical marketing environment.

Calderson then highlights the dual benefits of this shift for both advertisers and consumers. From the consumer’s perspective, the use of first and zero-party data enables more personalized and relevant advertising, improving the overall experience with the brand. This personalization can lead to increased brand loyalty and engagement, creating a positive feedback loop that benefits both parties. Moreover, he suggests that a well-implemented strategy based on these data types can lead to a more enjoyable and meaningful interaction between consumers and brands, underscoring the value of tailored content and offers.

Embracing the Future with First and Zero-Party Data

As we conclude Episode 2 of our Countdown to the Cookieless Future, it’s clear that first and zero-party data are not just alternatives to third-party cookies; they are the foundation of a more privacy-conscious, efficient, and engaging digital advertising future.

Join us for our next episode, where we’ll explore ID solutions and how these technologies and strategies will shape our journey into a cookieless landscape. Featuring our stellar team of sales engineers, this episode covers what identity solutions are, top options currently on the market, and how they function to provide targeted media buying. Check out the full episode, Everything You Need to Know about Alterative ID Solutions, here.

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