Most consumers already know the websites they visit collect their data, so when they get personalized offers and content, they're not surprised. Consumers also are increasingly aware of the distinction between first-party and third-party data and that some companies collect third-party data and resell profiles of personal information to willing buyers.

Third-party data aggregation is under attack, which presents an opportunity and incentive for digital marketers to favor first-party data to build a more strategic and personalized marketing strategy.

The Power of First-Party Data

The more you know about the way your customers engage with your digital properties, the better you can align what you're selling with what customers are interested in. Though third-party data can be useful in the marketing process, a skilled and nuanced first-party data strategy is a more reliable and respectful way to deliver offers with a higher likelihood of engagement and conversion.

To clarify the differences between the two, first-party data is generated when an organization collects visitor behavior about customers on its own digital property. Sometimes, this is anonymous data, but more often, an organization knows the visitor's identity because he or she is either a registered user or has provided identifiable information in a previous visit. Brands then track consumers to serve up relevant information and offers.

Using first-party data means that the data comes from a company learning how its customers interact directly with its brand. This is its real value.

For example, first-party data lets a retailer know whether a customer favors brown shoes over black based on current or past shopping activity, or whether a consumer prefers to shop on a company's website or via a mobile app. Typically, this approach is enabled through first-party cookies placed by your company and are almost universally accepted by consumers.

Understanding Third-Party Data

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Jeff Seacrist

Jeff Seacrist is vice-president of Product Management at Webtrends, a provider of Web analytics products, services, and solutions.

LinkedIn: Jeff Seacrist

Twitter: @jeffseacrist