The Forces Driving Stronger First-Party Data Practices

By Walter Chistoni, Senior Vice President Sales, Alliant

Ever since Google announced plans to deprecate third-party cookies back in 2020, marketers have been inundated with reminders of the importance of building a strong foundation of first-party data. That’s for good reason. While everyone agrees that more high-quality data is crucial for modern marketing success, it’s also important to acknowledge that not all data is created equal—and first-party data represents the crème de la crème.

In reality, many marketing organizations have not leaned into the process of gathering, storing, protecting, and activating first-party data for their organizations—particularly small and medium-sized brands that might not believe they have enough to gain from this discipline. However, the need to prioritize first-party data applies to all companies, and this imperative will continue to grow over the next 12-18 months.

Let’s look at the key catalysts that are unleashing the potential of first-party data and how brands of all sizes can position themselves for success.

Catalysts for First-Party Data Prioritization

The eventual loss of the signal associated with third-party cookies prompted the realization within our industry that first-party data would represent the most viable data going forward. However, given that delay after delay has accompanied Google’s original announcement, it’s understandable that some of the urgency has been lost. Even despite the latest Google announced timeline change, there are two things that marketers should keep in mind when considering their first-party data practices:

  1. There’s more than just Google’s latest cookie announcement driving the need for (and competitive advantage behind) the strengthening of first-party data practices.
  2. Google’s decision to deprecate third-party cookies touched off a wave of industry innovation that means brands with strong first-party data assets stand to benefit more than ever by effectively putting this data to work.

Here are just a few of the forces at play right now that are enabling brands of all sizes to realize significant advantages from their first-party data:

Consumer expectations: As consumers become more empowered over their data, marketers are realizing this rising awareness and engagement is an opportunity to not only build trust with consumers, but also offer improved experiences. Deepening customer relationships means getting to know them better, and the first-party data generated by these “conversations” represents the foundation needed for enhanced loyalty efforts.

Privacy changes: The future state of data will require a deeper focus on safeguarding data. In the U.S., variance among state laws and new talks of federal regulation is driving everyone—brands, agencies, data providers, and others—to up their data privacy and compliance standards via clean rooms and data marts to create safer spaces. The result is more compliance (and assurances of compliance) as all industry players seek badging from data governing bodies and position themselves as transparent thought leaders on privacy. For brand marketers, they see it as an opportunity to safely leverage their data and its potential.

Brands as ecosystems: Brands are looking to take back control from walled gardens like Google and Meta by acting as their own ecosystems, rich with data. Larger brands especially are realizing they can leverage and partner to enhance their online, offline, and transactional data to better connect with customers and do so across channels. As smaller brands witness the success of their larger peers—and realize that such partnerships and data are accessible to them as well—we’re seeing greater motivation to bring the strongest possible first-party data assets to the table.

The rise of retail media: Thriving retail media networks are a great example of how the power of first-party data is driving huge shifts in budgets, partnerships, and the interplay of online and offline data and insights. Marketers are seeing growing evidence that the quality of what they bring to these environments from a first-party data standpoint is reflected in the performance they deliver.

Laying the Groundwork for a First-Party Future

Preparing for the future isn’t just a matter of generating more first-party data. It’s about finding the best means possible to unleash your brand’s data potential through smarter aggregation, enrichment, and partnerships opportunities.

This will ensure your brand can thrive within the reality of a more highly regulated, transparent, yet collaborative data landscape. Establishing a method to connect your best data with identity-based solutions across partners and channels will pay off now and into the future.