Why Your First-Party Data Is More Important Than Ever

first-party data important

Earlier this month, Google Chrome announced an upcoming crackdown on third-party data, a move that’s caused concern for publishers and advertisers alike. But it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, some have noted that it presents a opportunity for publishers—provided publishers have the first-party data to be successful.

First-party data, or the data that you’ve obtained from your audience directly, is more important than ever—and not just because of Chrome. From browser updates to privacy laws to changing publisher business models, here are a few reasons that a focus on first-party data will pay off.

1) Anti-tracking measures are cutting off third-party data.

Starting in 2017, Apple began blocking third-party cookies in its Safari browser with Intelligent Tracking Protection. In 2019, Google is following suit.

Unlike Safari, Google’s anti-tracking measures will require users to opt in themselves, an extra step that many users probably won’t take. Still, as more people express concerns about their online privacy, it’s possible that users who don’t normally dig through their browser settings will seek this option out. Either way, given that the majority of the internet uses Chrome, even a small percentage of opt-ins will impact audience tracking.

While anti-tracking measures are geared towards users, a Digiday source points out the potential positives for publishers:

“’This is about giving users more control of their data, but it also gives publishers more control of their own data. There has been too much reliance on third-party data as a way to understand audiences. This puts the power back in publishers’ hands.’ His reasoning: If third-party cookies are blocked, the only way to find an audience outside of Google and Facebook is to go direct to publishers and use first-party data to find audiences."

2) Privacy laws are changing.

As users take increasing interest in what’s done with their data, legislators are following suit.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was the big story of 2018, the California Consumer Privacy Act isn’t far behind, and other states are taking steps to cater to their privacy-oriented electorates. North Dakota, New York, Washington, and Texas have all considered privacy legislation that parallels (or, in some cases, outright copies) CCPA.

With these laws changing how (and if) data can be put to use, publishers with their own first-party data will be in the best position for success.

3) Platforms are reining in third-party data too.

Platforms are making overtures to privacy too. Among other privacy-oriented measures, Facebook cut off advertiser access to third-party data last year. This forced advertisers to use their own data—or to partner with publishers who have data. Advertisers will look towards publishers with first-party data that can be put to use, so publishers should be ready with something to offer.

4) Google and Facebook have all the data (and ad revenue).

With near-infinite user data at their disposal, it’s no wonder about 60% of all digital ad revenue goes to Google and Facebook. While Amazon is slowly slicing into that share, it doesn’t change the fact that advertisers are largely spending with platforms, not publishers. For publishers to compete with platforms for advertising dollars, they’ll have to prove they can deliver value for the money.

Having actionable first-party data will make that easier.

5) First-party data allows you to deliver interested audience segments for advertisers.

According to AdExchanger, as third-party cookies are increasingly blocked, “logged-in identifiers (typically email based) will become more important than ever for the ecosystem.” Even if a user isn’t logged in, email clicks carry markers of user identity that can be used to reconcile identity and collect actionable data about those users.

With first-party data from your audience, you can create audience segments for advertisers based on user behavior, such as the content they consume. These targeted segments will prove especially attractive for advertisers who want access to particular types of audiences.

6) First-party data helps publishers build reader habits.

The benefits of first-party data aren’t limited to your advertiser relationships. First-party data will also help you build audience relationships.

Knowing more about your audience allows you to target users with more relevant content. When readers know they can count on you to show them content they like, they’re more likely to stay engaged. Over time, this reader engagement can turn into ever-important reader habits. Building these habits with your audience will lead to more ad impressions, more paid subscriptions, and more revenue.

7) First-party data leads to more revenue, no matter your business model.

To monetize your audience more effectively, you have to know your audience. Whether you drive revenue through advertising or subscriptions or a mix of the two, having more actionable first-party data enables you to take more of the actions that lead to real revenue.

Looking for more first-party data? Get the Email Audience Enrichment Solution Guide to unlock more of the first-party data you already have.

Editor, PostUp PlayBook