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Collect, Segment and Scale: The Benefits of First-Party Data Sets

(This is the first of a two-part feature on first-party data sets for publishers. Stay tuned for part two, releasing later this month.)

These days, to say that the digital advertising world is “changing” would be an understatement. The looming deprecation of third-party data represents a seismic shift in priorities for modern consumers who have made it abundantly clear that their privacy is invaluable to them. As a result, the advertising world needs to move away from the third-party tracking methods of the past, and embrace privacy-friendly solutions that still deliver on relevant data.

Ever since the rollout of iOS 14.5 last year, which brought App Tracking Transparency (or ATT) to the center of the user data conversation, it’s been estimated that as many as 96% of Apple device users have opted out of some or all available tracking applications. Although research suggests that more people are realizing their data offers a more personalized internet experience, the current public attitude toward third-party tracking remains one of wariness, skepticism, and outright distrust; both for the companies that traffic in unsolicited data collection and the brands that would do business with them.

With all of this in mind, the million-dollar question becomes, how do publishers and advertisers continue to benefit from the accuracy, personalization and scalability that third-party data currently enables without leveraging the data that most users don’t want to share? The answer may be deceptively simple: utilize the data that users do want to share, and likely, have been sharing for some time. That’s exactly why first-party data has become a critical piece of the future of digital advertising as well as a space that publishers are uniquely positioned to offer.


A First-Party Data Primer

First-party data is any information that is collected from users through direct interaction with your digital assets and properties. The survey you recently sent out to your mailing list? That’s first-party data. The online form that users fill out to access certain pieces of your content? First-party data once again. The pixel on your website that suggests new articles based on a user’s reading history? You guessed it! First-party data.

Implementing intentional first-party data strategies like these can yield a diverse swath of demographic and behavioral data that can offer valuable insights into your audience, provide opportunities to improve their experience with your content, and inform your overarching targeting strategies. Best of all, it’s a practice that’s largely unaffected by the deprecation of third-party tracking, and it will continue to pay dividends for years to come.


Benefits of First-Party Data for Publishers

Not only will first-party data sets continue to support a cookieless internet, but they will also come with several opportunities that aren’t necessarily guaranteed through third-party tracking.


Enhanced User Experience & Trust

To start, first-party data is 100% based on a one-on-one relationship with your audience. As a premium publisher, your content already has value to your audience. In addition to collecting on that value in the form of a monthly subscription fee, for example, a subscriber may be willing to offer additional information about themselves in exchange for access to certain areas of your content. This takes you directly to the source of your data, unlike third-party methods.

The information that users provide also makes it easier to deliver on that same value by tailoring your audience’s ad experience around content that’s more relevant to their interests. DV studies indicate that 44% of users have tried a new brand due to seeing a relevant ad alongside a piece of content they were consuming. The more information they share up front, the more effective you can be at curating content based on the user's location, occupation, income, and countless other factors.

Presenting opportunities to share data openly can also foster a sense of transparency within your audience. Sometimes, data is simply necessary to get the most out of a website. When it’s communicated that that data is collected responsibly and used in good faith to connect with your audience and improve their experience, the sharing of that data becomes much easier for both new and returning users.


Own Your Data…and Your Audience’s Story

Another advantage of first-party data collection is that you control how and where it’s collected. From the moment your audience clicks “Send”, that information can be sorted, stored and put to work.

Perhaps even more valuable than knowing the rights you have with respect to your first-party data is knowing that your competitors don’t have any rights to this data. Third-party information is often more widely available, and it’s not uncommon for competing companies to draw water from the same proverbial well, which leads to a lack of market diversity. Gathering insights from your own first-party data ensures your insights and strategies are original, thereby providing you with the best possible chance to outmaneuver competitors. This is a new opportunity to stand out from the pack.


Data Accuracy & Depth

Collecting first-party data means you’re gathering information directly from your audience at individual access points that you control. Going straight to the source should improve both the accuracy of and your confidence in that information. Unlike first-party data, third-party data is often aggregated from less verifiable sources, which could result in it being less reliable.

Being in control of collecting your data means that you also have control over what information is valuable. How much specific insights are valued can vary from publisher to publisher, but the big idea here is that you can personally determine what data is being requested of your audience. This is essential to developing an actionable and truly original targeting strategy.


Conclusion

Even though the “when” isn’t crystal clear just yet, third-party deprecation is coming. It’s just a matter of time. For now, though, it’s important to know that there are ways to control your own data destiny. While not easy, this industry shift is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s never too late to start developing a strategy that works for you. A central piece of that strategy is the cultivation of a long-term relationship with your audience that’s based on trust, engagement, and providing value.

But what does that look like exactly? What actions can you take right here and now? We’ll take an in-depth look at some of the answers to these questions in part two of our series on first-party data sets. Request a demo today to learn more about how DV Publisher Suite can improve your first-party data operations.