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What is Zero-Party Data: Zero vs First-Party Data


Lately, you may have heard the term zero-party data thrown around. It’s become quite the hot topic in today’s advertising industry. But what is zero-party data really, why is it so popular, and is it really all that different from first-party data? We have all those answers and more to kick off the first edition of our newest series, Lotame’s Now You Know.

What is Zero-Party Data: The Origin

In order to understand exactly what zero-party data is, let’s explore the history of the term. Coined by Forrester Research in 2018, zero-party data is defined as, “data that a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand.” 

Hmm, sounds a bit like first-party data, doesn’t it? That’s because it is! Zero-party data is essentially a subset of first-party data. Before the term was even invented, it was indeed thought of as first-party data. 

So why is this important? Like any new trend, zero-party data has gotten a lot of attention in terms of value and privacy. Before we dive deeper into what exactly zero-party data is, it’s important to remember that though the term might be new, it’s really not a new type of data, and the term has nothing to do with privacy. It’s just about who collects and stores the data. When it comes to privacy, it’s consent that matters. 

Zero-Party Data vs. First-Party Data

So let’s dive in! How is zero-party data different from first-party data? The main distinction is that zero-party data is volunteered by the user intentionally, making it both explicit and declared. First-party data, on the other hand, can include assumptions made about website visitors, website analytics, and insights from user behaviors. 

Let’s take a look at some real-life examples. Say a sports lover lands on a sports merchandise site. The user fills out the sports brand’s survey, specifying which types of sports they are most interested in, what products they are drawn to, and what types of merchandise they would like to see on the market in exchange for a product discount and more personalized content. All this information, shared with the brand, is intentionally shared by the user. The sports merchandise brand has now collected zero-party data vs. first-party data on the sports lover. 

While on the site, that same user landed on several different pages browsing different products. They may have clicked on a specific product page or spent several minutes on the blog reading about the newest sneaker brand. All of this data, not intentionally shared by the user, can still be collected by the sports merchandise brand and classified as first-party data vs zero-party data. 

Now that we know the difference between the two data categories, it’s important to reiterate that both types of data are owned by the sports merchandise company, and collected directly from their customers. The company must obtain consent to make this information privacy compliant.

Is Zero-Party Data Really More Valuable Than Other Types of Data?

Ah, we’ve arrived at the crux of the matter. Lately, marketers everywhere are touting zero-party data as the gold standard of all data. But is it really more valuable than observed first-party data or second and third-party data? The answer is all data is valuable, when properly sourced, collected and activated. Zero-party data is another category of data to add to your toolkit. 

Zero-Party Data Use Cases for Publishers and Marketers

Publishers and marketers can both find value in collecting and activating against zero-party data. Let’s dig into a few helpful use cases.  

For publishers, it’s all about the value exchange. Being able to offer readers something back, in exchange for a piece of information can lead to a higher level of engagement, customer loyalty, or even time spent on the page. Zero-party data, such as preference centers, surveys, polls, or quizzes, can all offer the end user more personalized content, leading to an overall better user experience. 

Similarly, marketers can use zero-party data to gain deeper insights into what their customers are thinking. It’s information that comes straight from the source, directly from the mouths of end-users. This information can help marketing teams create deeper customer segments based on interests, products, or preferences shared directly by their ideal customers.

Zero-Party Data Should Be Used With Other Data Categories

Any successful advertising strategy will include all four types of data – first, second, third and zero-party. Marketers and publishers can reach larger audiences by activating against their first and zero-party data with second and third-party data

At Lotame, we have a number of different solutions that can help marketers leverage both their zero and first-party data, even in cookieless environments. Our award-winning data connectivity solutions enable you to collect first-party data as well as easily access second- and third-party data from Lotame’s Audience Management platform. It provides a central platform where you can onboard, analyze and model all of your data points, whatever sources they come from, and readily activate them.

Lotame delivers flexible data solutions to future-proof connectivity and drive performance across all screens. Marketers, publishers, and platforms rely on our innovative and interoperable solutions, powered by our identity platform, to onboard, enrich, and address audiences. Contact us to learn more about what our data solutions can do for your business.