These days, various types of data are available, almost “at your fingertips” (especially on the Internet) – such as first, second and third party data (also commonly known as cookies). When you start conducting advertising activities, your main goal is, of course, to reach your target audience and encourage them to perform the actions you care most about – buying a product, signing up for a newsletter, taking a course, downloading an e-book, and so on. But how can you ensure that your message reaches those who may find your product or service useful in the first place? What do these three types of information include, and how can you use them in your company’s advertising activities? Read on to find out!

First, second and third party data – table of contents:

  1. First, second and third party data – how are they different?
  2. What can you use first, second and third party data for?
  3. First and second-party cookies – how do they help you?
  4. Third party cookies – how to use this type of information?
  5. First, second, third party data – summary

First, second and third party data – how are they different?

Data personalization is now the basis of ongoing marketing activities, especially in the area of ad targeting (targeting a specific audience, such as in Google Ads, Facebook Ads or Instagram Ads). The information based on which we act can come from various sources – it is on this basis that we make a division between them, according to which:

  • First party data includes data we have acquired ourselves (e.g., from a website visible in Google Analytics or a CRM system – Customer Relationship Management),
  • Second party data is data obtained from a trusted partner (some also point out that from other ongoing advertising campaigns),
  • Third party data represents data that we have received from entities that are completely external to us (there are currently efforts underway to ban the use of these cookies altogether – Google has announced that it will withdraw them at the end of 2023, and Apple has already done so for Safari).

What can you use first, second and third party data for?

Firstly, the information obtained from all the above-mentioned sources will help you in segmenting your customers (i.e., people who may be interested in your product or service), enabling you to create marketing personae in detail and target them with fully tailored marketing activities and advertising messages. Thus, with the data, you will be able to count on achieving the expected results, such as better sales, higher engagement or building loyalty (depending on the exact purpose of your activities). You may apply the acquired information across all the advertising channels you operate daily, while testing which one converts best.

First and second-party cookies – how do they help you?

We should stress that first-party cookies are your best source of information, because the gathered data (demographic, behavioral, contact, other) comes from customers “closest to your offer” – who have visited the website, signed up to the mailing database, made a purchase or stay active on the company’s social media. Data obtained this way allows you, for example, to employ look-a-like modeling, i.e. to target ads to similar people (based on received behavioral and demographic characteristics). Second-party cookies, on the other hand, are data like the first-party ones but collected by a trusted partner (e.g., an ad publisher), who makes them available to you. You can collate them with your own, allowing you to prepare an even better campaign.

Third party cookies – how to use this type of information?

Third party data differ from the two types already described – because they come from completely external entities (usually specialized Data Management Platforms, or DMPs), and they can only be acquired for a fee. They encompass a variety of data sources (e.g., thematically related websites), and thus offer a chance to deepen knowledge of users to an extent not possible with first and second-party cookies. What’s more, third-party data is typically made available in the form of ready-made segments, which significantly shortens the process of analyzing the target group letting you direct tailored actions in a short time, increasing the quality of traffic on the company’s website.

third party data

First, second, third party data – summary

In modern times, there’s no doubt that establishing marketing activities on the bases of individual conjecture or group speculation is the thing of a past. Digital marketing which obtains data from various sources is the new norm. Therefore, when planning any advertising activities, begin by collecting first, second and third party cookies, and then collate and analyze them to segment your customers accordingly. Only after completing these steps you will easily brainstorm optimal marketing activities that may result in the bringing expected benefits – because they will be as precisely tailored to the behaviors, needs and concerns of those included in your primary target group as possible.

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Author: Zofia Lipska

With over 10 years of experience in digital marketing, Sophia not only knows the rules of this industry but above all knows how to break them in order to achieve outstanding and creative results.