As Tony Stark, a.k.a., Iron Man says in his namesake movie that “the party is over, but the afterparty starts in fifteen minutes”. Interestingly, something similar is happening in the marketing domain. Here too, the party is almost over for the third-party data providers, supporters, and dependents. But those who want to stay for the afterparty may be better poised to initiate meaningful conversations with their customers.  

Types of consumer data

Although customer data is vital for any marketer, the source of information and collection methods are crucial too. Usually, there are three types of data marketers utilize while creating cohorts. 

First-party data is the customer information that a business collects directly from customers. It considers user transactions and interactions and is proprietary to the company. This data is available using user consent and leverages information from various sources, e.g., websites, apps, customer relationship systems (CRM), billing systems, email systems, product analytics, chats, and even the ERP system.   

Second-party data usually consists of the first-party data collected from another business for easy deployment to your business. An example of this is credit card companies, because they often ask customers for their consent to share the data with their financial partners, be it lending agencies or mortgage companies. The commonality here is the business types are related, and hence they can be used readily by partner companies.  

Third-party data are usually collected using cookies containing tracers. It collects information according to the users’ online behavior, including device information, preferences, and even location data. Since the previous instances of data collection lacked any structured governance, there was free rein on what companies could learn about you through your online behavior.  

Unlike the above two, marketers collect third-party data from multiple online sources. It includes demographic information, social website behavior, or any publicly listed sources where the information may be available. In this case, it’s not necessary for the organization aggregating this data to know about you or have any relationship with you. This data often is often available for transactions in data marketplaces.   

The conflict between first and third party data

While the temptation to use third-party data is high, it is a very inefficient way to get customers. It also forces you to focus on the targeting using customer preferences and continue to fine-tune things. However, it is ridiculous to fine-tune targeting when the intent is barely a signal. The cost of fine-tuning usually means spending more dollars on ads and marketing budgets that couldn’t show revenue attribution.    

With the customer intent in the mix, third-party data becomes less relevant. Further, the recent focus on data privacy is now ending these indiscriminate data collection activities by introducing regulations like GDPR and CCPA. And, rightly so, these rules, with their emphasis on privacy, also bring the user’s consent into front and center. The user intent in the case of First-party data is apparent. The context in which a user consents to receive marketing communications translates into a direct willingness to pay attention. Once you have their attention, it’s easier to craft situations that measure clear intent.  

While the prospects of First-party data sound incredible, the foundation and groundwork for it are much more time-consuming. It also means that marketers now need to rewire their marketing machines. The content needs to be richer, more direct, and solely targeted at user personas. This calls for improvement in targeting and segmentation in marketing outreach. Whether emails or sales calls, marketers need to be more focused. All of these imply that there must be newer ways to measure intent signals and be very contextual.  

So, the afterparty is starting for these intent-based marketers while the others are sailing into a sunset. So, marketers, sharpen your pencils, be more authentic, and start engaging your customers by understanding their intent more than their preferences.

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