First published

Feb 28, 2023

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Your complete guide to third, second, first and zero party data

Data has got serious in the past decade or so and we don’t mean the bad old days of third and second party data. Remember when strategic email marketing meant buying a list of unknown contacts and refining them to meet your needs?

2023 and beyond sees a new world of first and zero party data: these two are like the new electricity.

Like electricity, first and zero party data has to be produced from things your organisation does. This activity creates data which, if correctly harnessed in your system, creates the powerful insights your organisation needs to grow. Plus it’s renewable and sustainable.

Clear as mud?

Here’s the basic rundown, feel free to skip past if you’re good with it all:

Third Party Data; is any data acquired by your organisation without any direct link to your operation or audience.

Think, the stuff you get from many different sources that is sold to, or bought by organisations. Such as buying a brokered list. However, since it’s not directly collected by your organisation, and is also available to your competitors, be careful with it, if you have to use it at all.

Second Party Data; is still information your organisation didn't collect yourself, but is secondhand rather than random.

Think, the stuff you get from working with a trusted partner that shares data in a mutually beneficial relationship. Such as a car rental company sharing data with an airline. However now you’ve got data originally collected for other reasons, think hard about how your organisation can migrate/usefully use it before you do.

First Party Data; your organisation collects it, with direct consent from people, through interactions on websites, apps and in response to marketing initiatives, like surveys, and campaigns etc.

Think, one of the most valuable types of data an organisation controls. Such as information gathered from a prospect via a form on your website. It helps create more purposeful growth that builds direct relationships with your audience. It also strengthens your brand and brings greater efficiency to your operations. Providing the kind of insights that give your organisation real control over its destiny.

Zero Party Data; comes from your first party data, key benefit is that it's more trustworthy than all other data. Because people share it willingly and know how it's being used by your organisation.

Think, people who trust your organisation with their personal information. Such as communication preferences and purchase intensions. It’s more accurate because its suppled directly, it’s more engaging because your organisation can create more personalised experiences, which leads to higher engagement rates and longer user lifespans.

As we become increasingly privacy-aware, organisations will need to rely more on zero party data to create trusted, personalised relationships with their users.

Apple's move to block cross-app tracking is real and happening now. The trend of web-browsers (e.g. bing, safari) toward tracking prevention may make traditional tracking models obsolete.

Plus the writing’s on the wall for Google. After a few years of procrastination, the death of the third party cookie in Chrome has been rescheduled for the second half of 2024 (but don’t hold your breath). Whenever, it’s a when not if.

So if you’re an organisation who has relied heavily on Google’s analytical data to drive your marketing, and you’re not yet using first or zero party data, you need a rethink.

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Post by Kevin Lawless

Photo by Andrea De Santis