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Third-party vs. second-party vs. first-party data

Last updated: 17/01/2022

Learn about: 

  • Cookies and why they are important for marketers
  • The difference between first-party, second-party and third-party cookies
  • What to do in a cookieless world

Is there a difference between third-party, second-party, and first-party data? And if so, what are the implications for digital marketers? In this post, we'll explore the differences between these types of data and examine how you can use each to improve your marketing strategy and campaigns. 

Cookies are a gold mine for marketers

Cookies. We all love them, but marketers love them more. Why? Because cookies allow marketers to get what they love even more than cookies - data!  

With cookies, marketers can see things like who visited their website, track behavior, and understand what makes the best customer. They can do better targeting, better ads, and better marketing with all that information by looking at various audience segments. 

But, not all data is the same as you collect and manage it. You have first, second and third-party data. Read on to learn more!

Collect first-party data! 

The data that you have collected yourself is called first-party. It can come from any source and includes website traffic, survey responses, or customer records stored in your CRM system.

First-party information means everything we know about our customers' interaction - their preferences; what they buy online, etc. This gives us an edge over competitors because this info comes straight from our very own audience data!

Some examples are: 

  • Purchase history
  • Time spent on a website 
  • Number of visits
  • Emails 
  • Phone numbers 

The user's consent is key to how marketers use their first-party data. And with GDPR, they need this now more than ever before since consumers have rights under European Union law, which include controlling what information companies collect about them and getting verifiable informed consent before processing any personal details. This includes anything belonging specifically to online activities like browsing habits or purchase history! 

As long as it was generated from sources you own, your first-party data is considered more valuable than any other kind of business data. Marketers can do many things with first-party data, such as creating ideal customer profiles to better plan future campaigns or using website behavior to optimize landing pages for visitors. 

In short, marketers can improve campaign planning abilities because marketers know who's most likely interested or what products they would prefer (based on previous purchases). But it’s essential that your customers see you as a trusted partner who provides an optimal customer experience. 

What’s second-party data?

Second-party data is first-party data shared with you by another company. 

For example, imagine you own a hotel booking website, and you establish a partnership with an air travel website, and you both start sharing data. 

Now you have access to people that bought tickets to particular destinations and can target them with specific ads for hotels on those destinations. Pretty clever, right? 

In practice, what's happening is you are allowing each other access to your first-party data. And that is second-party data to you.


Finally, we have third-party data 

Third-party data is data collected by a business or company with no relationship with you or the customer.

This kind of data will be aggregated in big lists like, "People who enjoy football," or "People who like dogs" on social media. This can be powerful, but you need to know whom you're buying data from so you can guarantee quality. 

It's worth bearing in mind that the data quality varies from type to type. Also, as privacy laws become more stringent and browsers restrict third-party cookies, many see the use of third-party cookies coming to an end. 

It's time to get serious about data 

As the world moves towards a "cookieless" future, marketers are being advised that they harness their power of first-party data and customer relationships--that is what you have complete control over how it’s collected and organized. 

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