First-Party Data Owners Mustn’t Give Up Their Competitive Advantage for Short-Term Gains

5 hot air balloons next to a rocket

By Alex Southworth, VP of Digital Marketing Solutions at Dun & Bradstreet

At a time when you can’t turn around without hearing industry discussion of the implications of an increasingly cookieless world, first-party data owners with a wealth of customer insights find themselves in an enviable position. If first-party data is the marketing currency of the future, then they’re rich, right?

Well, maybe. There’s a difference between having money in your pocket and having access to generational wealth. For today’s first-party data owners, now is a crucial time to be focusing on building a long-term vision versus racing to cash in on a short-term competitive advantage. Allow me to explain.

A New Class of Data Owners

A number of changes within the media universe in recent years—Google’s pivot away from third-party cookies on Chrome representing just one—have given great favor to the owners of first-party data. Notable beneficiaries include the plethora of retailers, commerce companies and consumer brands that have amassed significant stores of customer data in a direct-to-consumer world.

These companies have awakened to the fact that the kind of data they own now plays a critical role in the way that media is and will be exchanged in the future. It’s valuable in and of itself when it comes to deepening these companies’ customer relationships and providing guidance on how best to acquire new ones. But without a doubt, the value of their data goes deeper.

So, how should today’s first-party data owners go about commercializing this highly coveted asset? One answer would be to start selling it right away—and it’s a tempting response. But that’s where I’d advise data owners to pump the brakes.

Transforming First-Party Data into a Long-Term Play

Many of today’s retailers, commerce companies and brands have impressive stores of first-party data that present immediate monetization opportunities. However, very few have a level of data or inventory of sufficient scale to support the long-term health of their business. But with the right approach, they could.

Before racing out the door to monetize their data at whatever CPM seems to be the going rate, first-party data owners need to turn their attention to enriching their assets to bring additional value to any would-be customers. In other words, before pulling the lever on data sales, they need to ask themselves: What am I selling?

On its own, most companies’ first-party data reveals very specific insights and dimensions of a given customer. However, with proper enrichment, this data can become much more—and can solve higher-value use cases of specific customers in both the B2C and B2B realms. Bringing a B2B dimension to an otherwise consumer-focused data set, in particular, can open up tremendous new opportunities.

As a new tier of first-party data owners become data providers, the emphasis needs to shift from volume to value. From the data owner’s perspective, that means thinking about first-party data as a product and considering its long-term yield. By working with quality data partners that can layer new dimensions of intelligence on first-party data—highly valued dimensions like intent or C-level status in a company—companies can significantly increase the premium that they can place on their supply, while at the same time making their product more relevant and valuable to a targeted customer base.

We’re at a pivotal crossroads in the data-driven marketing world and first-party data owners have a unique advantage when turning the corner. However, to make the most of this advantage, they need to resist the allure of short-term revenue. It’s time to play the long game.