Third-party cookies are out and first-party data is in.

While there’s no reason to panic, it’s time to pivot (and pivot quickly). This ebook will show you that so much of the data that you think you’re losing with third party cookies is already at your fingertips with first party data.

First-Party Data Is the Next (And Right) Move

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First Party Data

In a broader viewing of today’s marketing landscape, the term “first-party data” is not only present but prevalent. But just as a word begins to lose its meaning when repeated aloud too often, words that are as often used as first-party data can become difficult to clearly define. When you know about something because you heard about it third hand, you can’t be expected to understand it deeply. The key lies in knowing the first party meaning. So let’s start with some definitions.

First-party data meaning is simple because it is a very broad definition. First-party data is all of the data that you collect directly from your customer or user. From names and addresses to email addresses and phone numbers–all of these are examples of first-party data. More specific definitions exist. In the eyes of GDPR first-party data might take on a slightly different meaning. You may have heard marketing thought leaders discuss a recent shift to first-party data. Don’t be embarrassed if you were wondering “what is first-party data in marketing anyway?” You wouldn’t be alone in asking. Why is first-party data important? When you consider that first-party data represents everything you know about all of your customers and prospects, you start to see that the value of first-party data, when properly calculated, could represent a large percentage of the value of your company.

The entire marketing industry is trying to figure out now to pivot away from third-party data like cookies. With Google announcing their intention to halt the use of cookies in their Chrome web browser in coming years, marketers are scrambling. One way to continue to market with the assumed precision offered by third-party cookies is to use the first-party data you’ve collected through your website, your customer relationship management system, trade shows, in-person meetings and more. Viewing it from this perspective, you may be realizing now that you have been collecting and utilizing first-party data for sales and marketing efforts for years, you just didn’t know to call it by that name.

Now that you’re clear on what first-party data is and why it most definitely matters to your efforts to promote and grow your business, we can move on to more specifics.

What Is First-Party Data?

“What is first party data?” This could be the first question you ask yourself when beginning your research on this topic. The best place to start in understanding the value of first-party data is to compare it with second, third, and even zero party data. There is a difference between first party, second party third party data. Knowing it is within your grasp! Just keep reading a little farther.

First-Party Data Vs Third-Party Data

We begin with third-party data and its difference with first-party data. The primary difference when comparing first-party vs third-party data is the way it is collected. So, what is third-party data? And what is the difference between first and third-party data? Whereas first-party data is collected directly from your customers and prospects, third-party data is indirectly collected in a number of ways. As it is not individual data, it is aggregate data. This makes it less accurate and more unreliable. It is often bought and sold, packaged and repackaged only to be bought and sold again. Some third-party data providers have poor reputations, and because of their use to send unsolicited spam, the use of third-party data has led to an increase in concern from users and regulatory bodies alike. In turn, regulations have passed and will continue that protect consumers and dish out harsh penalties for the improper collection of data. If you have been relying on third party data, know that in the fight of 1st Party Data Vs 3rd Party Data, 1st party data is about to deliver a knockout blow. Read on to learn the benefits of first-party data vs third-party data.

First Party-Data Vs Second-Party Data

This is not a discussion of “who is first party and second party in agreement with?” Rather, we’re discussing these two different types of data. Second-party data lies between first and third party data. Second-party data is collected through a customer relationship, but an indirect one. Whereas third-party data is sold to nearly any company that can pay for it, second-party data is shared only with trusted partners.

First Party Data Vs Zero-Party Data

Zero-party data represents a sizable shift in the way marketers are viewing data, especially first-party data. Because of the variety of data types that fall into this category, we will explore zero-party data in a standalone section. It is a category that is setting a new high-mark for prospect or customer engagement. And it puts the control in the consumer’s hands, which is a welcome change, but one that creates new challenges for marketers. Read on to learn more about the first-party data vs zero-party data comparison.

First Party Data Definition

It may be tempting to think of zero-party data as another form of first-party data, but that’s the wrong way to view it. Read any zero-party data case study and you will quickly see that having a reliable method for zero-party data collection is a recipe for building customer loyalty and driving more revenue. Compared to zero-party data, cookies start to crumble. And while we’ll stay on the lookout for any zero-party data startup that appears in the marketplace, zero-party data vs first-party data is a fair fight, but third-party data will lose every time. For a great take on zero-party data, Forrester has published articles on the topic. Try this one.

Looking for zero-party data examples? Look no further. Zero-party data is the information that your customers and/or users voluntarily provide to you. Whether it’s answers provided in a poll or online quiz, or the preferences a user makes about how to be reached, these pieces of data represent voluntary and intentional interaction with your brand. Zero-party data can come from places like these:

  • Email preferences/addresses
  • Texting preference/phone numbers
  • Answers given in online quizzes or polls
  • Preferences selected in a customer profile*

Consider this ZPD zero party data example. You buy enough products from a popular musician’s supply retailer that you decide to create a profile on their website. After all, it makes checking out with an order easier. While you’re completing your profile, you check boxes and select from dropdowns to tell this retailer what instrument or instruments you play, how often you play, whether or not you perform in public and even if you perform for pay. Consider how much more direct and targeted this retailer can now market to you! They can send offers that are tailored to the type of musician you are! It makes those marketing messages feel timely!

First-Party Data Marketing

Now that we’ve clearly defined what first-party data is and why it is important, there’s one last thing we need to learn: how to use first-party data. As you plan for a future with diminished returns from third-party data sources, and the upcoming expiration date for the cookie, building a first-party data strategy should be a priority. Check the latest Merkle report. In Merkle’s 2021 customer engagement report, the first-party data statistics were clear; this is the best way forward for marketers.

The benefits of first-party data are huge (the benefits of first-party marketing are also just as big)! There are even tools available (like Terminus) that can take your first-party data and allow you to segment that data based on a wide range of categories. The result is smarter, more targeted and efficient marketing. And because you’ve collected information from them when they interact with you in some way, even if only through your website, these prospects are exponentially more likely to be familiar with your brand. This changes everything! You can focus minimal efforts on baseline education about who you are–these folks already know you.

If you’re looking for additional resources on first-party data marketing, here are some suggested resources to get you started.


Hey that’s us! Terminus is a software platform that pulls in your first-party data and makes it simple to spin up campaigns via email personalization, website fly-ins/modals, chat experiences, paid advertising including digital TV and audio. All of them are powered by your first-party data and Terminus’ proprietary data aggregation methodology. Check with us for more resources on first-party data and how it should be a driving force in your marketing efforts.


For Invoca first-party data is used to tie conversion attribution to specific ad sets or calls to action. Invoca is a call tracking software used by marketers.


If you’re using Jebbit first-party data, it flows into your server through quizzes.


Merkle is a global marketing agency that employs first-party data-driven marketing programs.

First-Party Data Examples

Before we start in on a variety of examples of first-party data which are relevant to our discussion, to help with some definitions, we’ll first point out some uses of the term “first-party” that do not relate to marketing.

We will start with what first party meaning in insurance is. First party insurance refers to an insurance policy purchased directly by an individual (as opposed to a group plan, for instance). As you can see, this has nothing to do with marketing.

The term first-party is also used in the world of video games. Here’s the first-party games meaning: A first-party game is a game created by the same producers of the game’s platform. Sony manufactures the Playstation gaming console. Sony also has a studio that creates games for the Playstation–these are first-party games. Again, not relevant to the marketing discussion.

To the emarketer first-party data is crucial, but what are some examples of third-party data? Remember, third-party data is purchased from data aggregation companies or advertisers. Examples would include lists of visitors to a particular website, or search terms. This makes CPG first-party data more rare, as consumer packaged goods are often purchased with minimal interaction with the manufacturer.

To understand the importance of first party data, look for a first-party data case study. You may get some insights from a Google Analytics case study. Is Google analytics a first-party cookie? Or said another way, is Google Analytics first-party data? No matter how you ask it, the answer is yes! So make use of Google case studies when possible. A Google marketing strategy case study would be useful, too. This article from Think With Google first-party data tackles this subject and its usefulness.

Here are other useful resources:

BCG first-party data opinions and resources also abound, so take a look at BCG when you have questions about first-party data.

First-Party Data Advertising

Before you start spending big bucks on marketing efforts, your best first move might be to run a campaign focused on first-party data capture. You want the information you keep about your prospects to be broad (covering as many potential customer companies as possible) and deep (containing accurate information about who they are, where they are, and what they’re looking for). In fact, one of the benefits of 1st party data matching is that it can make your marketing smarter and more efficient, saving you dollars on the budget and maximizing ROI. If you haven’t already, make it a goal to design and implement a first-party data programmatic advertising program.

First-party data collection techniques range from signing up users to your email newsletter to growing the accounts in your CRM at a trade show. Collecting first-party data doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. If you’re looking for more help, there are first-party data companies you can look to for first-party data enrichment.

Marketers have been using valuable pieces of content as a means of encouraging prospects to offer up details like their names and contact information. The ideal is to strike a balance in the first-party data value exchange–both parties should walk away with something of value. This has kept content departments on their toes, to be sure.

It’s possible that you have a treasure trove of data at your disposal, but it exists in a rolodex, on index cards, or on a growing stack of legal pads. This information should be entered into a CRM system to maximize its usefulness to your org. This process is called first-party data onboarding.