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1st Party Data, 2nd Party Data, 3rd Party Data: What does it all mean?

Updated on September 19, 2017

Data, data everywhere. First-party, third-party, now there’s even second-party. How do you keep them all straight?

1st Party Data Definition

First-party data is YOUR data. First-party data is defined as and includes data from behaviors, actions or interests demonstrated across your website(s); data you have in your CRM; subscription data; social data; or cross-platform data from mobile web or apps.

This data is collected from your own audience and customers, and it is generally thought of as the most valuable because of its quality. Not only is it the most valuable, but It is available to you for no cost (making it cheaper than 3rd-party data). And most importantly, because of current privacy debates and the questionable future of third-party data, first-party data is safe. Whatever is decided regarding third-party cookies, first-party data will always be your own.

First-party data is king. Everyone knows that any company not collecting and activating 1st party data from their properties is basically leaving money on the table.

First-party data is created and owned by publishers and marketers themselves. Taking control of this first-party data should be a priority for any company today who wants to monetize, learn from, and use this asset to scale valuable audiences, deepen engagement with consumers and improve ROI across marketing efforts.

3rd Party Data Definition

Third-party data, on the other hand, is generated on other platforms and often aggregated from other websites. There are many companies out there that sell third-party data, and it is accessible through many different avenues.

When purchasing 3rd party data, there are many factors the buyers should be wary of, including whether the company uses modeling vs. registration-based data. Inferred and declared demographic are two very different things, and which one you want for a particular campaign depends on your own preferences.

2nd Party Data Definition

The new kid on the block is second-party data, which is basically first-party data that you are getting directly from the source. You can make a deal with a particular publisher, whether through your DMP or elsewhere, to offer specific data points, audiences, or hierarchies to that other company. The terms of sale are determined by both parties in advance, and this sharing of high-quality first-party data gives you access to many non-endemic audiences you might not have previously been able to reach. For example, if you are a local newspaper company, and you team up with a larger health and beauty company, you can suddenly offer your advertisers a wealth of health & beauty data that you didn’t have before.

Because second-party data is such a hot topic, and there are so many questions about it, Lotame has put together a guide to 2nd party data to help answer your FAQs. If you want more info on 2nd party data, check it out.

Obviously not all data is equal. Whether you select first-, second- or third-party data, the most important thing is to understand the difference between the data sets available to you, and how they are unique. Data-driven marketing campaigns are useless or nonexistent without the data to run them, but thankfully there is an almost unlimited amount of data available for marketing campaigns.