The Countdown to Zero-Party Data

The Countdown to Zero-Party Data

If you’ve been paying attention to marketing news lately, you have no doubt seen the terms first-party, second-party, third-party, and zero-party data. These terms are critical in almost every targeting strategy conversation. 

With Google’s impending deprecation of third-party cookies, it is vital that you understand the differences between these data types. In this blog, you’ll learn how they can help or hurt your advertising strategies. Plus, we’ll outline how to collect and leverage each data source from third to zero-party data. 

Third-Party Data

What is Third-Party Data?

Third-party data is any information collected on consumers from an entity with no relationship to that consumer. In marketing, data aggregators commonly gather data from web browsers that are bundled and sold to advertisers. 

How to Collect Third-Party Data:

  • To collect third-party data, marketers purchase curated data packages from aggregators. This data is the primary target of data and privacy protection laws because it is usually collected and shared without the explicit consent of consumers. 

How to Use Third-Party Data:

  • How do you use this data? The short answer: due to changes in privacy laws/policies and the cookieless future, you should use third-party data sparingly. Additionally, this data collection can be inaccurate and lead to budget waste by serving ads to the wrong audiences.
  • Start shifting toward collecting more effective forms of consumer data, like first-, second-, and zero-party data, for your targeting needs.  

Second-Party Data

What is Second-Party Data?

Second-party data is consumer information collected directly by another organization that your brand has purchased or gained access to through partnerships. Unlike third-party data, the collecting organization has a direct relationship with the consumer. This leads to more accurate and actionable information. 

How to Collect Second-Party Data:

  • One of the more common forms of second-party data collection is through walled gardens, such as social media and retail media platforms. For example, social media account users on each platform are required to login prior to the use of the app. You may also gain access to this type of data through quality publisher partnerships. 
  • Like third-party data, you have to purchase or negotiate access to this data from the collection source. Coegi partners with providers like OwnerIQ, US Farm Data, and other reputable sources to ensure our clients have access to quality second-party data. 

How to Use Second-Party Data:

  • As mentioned above, you will likely use this kind of data while running ads on walled garden platforms or when activating direct partnerships with publishers. If you partner with a company to access this data, they will typically send anonymized email lists or require you to serve ads through them to gain access to their audiences. 
  • It is important to thoroughly vet any partnership in this space. Be sure you are in accordance with any privacy laws or policies put in place. 

First-Party Data

What is First-Party Data?

First-party data is information your brand collects directly from your audience. If you analyze it effectively, this will be one of the most important elements for digital advertising strategies in a cookieless future. 

How to Collect First-Party Data:

  • Place gated content on your website to collect emails and other information.
  • Generate email newsletter sign-ups in exchange for discount codes or special offers.
  • Store relevant information from customer purchases in your CRM platform for future segmentation and activation.

How to Use First-Party Data:

  • After collecting first-party data, you can use it to reach individuals who have already engaged in your brand through features like email-match targeting.
  • Develop modeled audiences to target people who have similar data points or behaviors to your existing customer base. Personalize advertising messages and other communications based on the most valuable and influential data points.

Zero-Party Data

What is Zero-Party Data? 

Coined by Forrester, zero-party data is collected when “a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It can include preference center data, purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize [them].” This data is technically a subcategory of first-party data. It is, however, worth giving this information its own terminology because it has the potential to go beyond first-party data snapshots and provide advanced profiles of your customer base. 

How to Collect Zero-Party Data:

  • Design and distribute short strategic surveys, quizzes, and polls for your audiences. 
  • Include interactive tools on your website that allow users to self-identify for a more personalized website experience.
  • Require free or subscription-based website account set-ups and logins to view the most valuable content to create a value exchange. 
  • Build product or service ratings into your website listings.

Tip: Motivate the customer by offering them something of value from your brand. For example, you could offer a discount or special access to an event in exchange for providing the data. 

How to Use Zero-Party Data:

  • Add zero-party data to your CRM and use it to curate customized communications and offers that build brand loyalty.
  • Act on user feedback to align your marketing strategy and customer touchpoints with the desires of your target audience.
  • Deliver custom suggestions to your users’ account home page based on information collected in their account set-up. 

Tip: Be conscientious about how often you are asking for this information and be sure to include variety between each ask. You don’t want to fatigue the customer and create a bad user experience. 

Bringing it All Together

The key distinction to make between each data type is the source.  As you move from third to zero-party data, you move closer to a more accurate understanding of your audience. These direct-from-the-source insights will help you make smarter strategy decisions and more effectively motivate your audience to convert. 

To learn more about how to use this data, read our Cookieless Targeting and Identity Solutions blog by Coegi’s Director of Innovation, Savannah Westbrock. 

3 Myths of Influencer Marketing: Debunked | Webinar

 

Are you falling victim to one of these common myths of influencer marketing? 

  • Influencer marketing is an awareness-only tactic
  • Influencer marketing is too expensive 
  • Influencer marketing is only for CPG brands 

If this is you, it’s time to change your mindset! 

Hear from Coegi and our guests from TikTok, Tagger and @BakerBanter as we reframe these three major biases around influencer marketing. 

What you’ll learn:

  • How to influence your bottom line using influencers
  • Innovative strategies to maximize your influencer budget
  • Why nearly all brands should be using influencers

Watch Now: 

Why should brands use influencer marketing?

Nearly ⅔ of US brands worked with influencers, often called creators, in the last year, and for good reason. Brands are seeking solutions to build brand authenticity, especially among younger generations who value genuineness over polish. 

Consumers tend to trust creators’ recommendations more readily. So adding the weight of an influencer’s opinion has a myriad of benefits: 

  • Adding relatable faces to represent your brand 
  • Reaching highly engaged, diverse audiences 
  • Improving customer acquisition, retention, and loyalty 

Despite these benefits, brands often believe influencers are not a viable option due to their particular industry, budget, or goals. So we brought together experts to shed light on the three key myths of influencer marketing.

Three Common Influencer Marketing Myths

Myth #1: Influencer is an awareness-only tactic

Whether your goal is top of the funnel, bottom-funnel, or somewhere in between, social media creators can influence buying decisions and drive measurable impact. Yes – influencer marketing originated as an upper-funnel, awareness tactic. But the creatorverse, and social media at large, have expanded and evolved since its beginnings. 

The recent proliferation of influencer-driven social commerce is further indicating this down-funnel shift.  With trackable coupon codes, UTMs, shoppable posts, and more now being incorporated into influencer marketing tactics, brands are able to more easily tie business results to this content. 

Myth #2: Influencer marketing is expensive

The cost of a sponsored influencer post can range anywhere from $10-10K+, making it a viable option for ANY marketing budget. Nano and micro-influencers with smaller, but highly attentive, follower bases are a lower-cost option for growing brands looking to build a reputation, whereas macro-influencers come with a heftier price tag but can make a significant splash. Additionally, the barriers to entry for influencer marketing are much lower than many other digital channels with the right reach out and process. 

Myth #3: Influencer marketing is only for CPG brands

Sure, having a physical, consumable product an influencer can hold up, wear or demonstrate is visually effective. But service-based brands, non-profits, and B2Bs, among other brands across a wide variety of industries, have also established strong influencer relationships that pay dividends. Some prolific examples of this are Audible.com, BetterHelp, and Robinhood. 

For more, read our full blog post on why influencers are relevant for every industry

Best Practices of Influencer Marketing

Ready to get started? 

Here are three key steps to launch a successful influencer marketing strategy: 

  • #1 Incorporate influencer into your broader media strategy

Influencer should be woven into a holistic marketing strategy, not treated as a one-off tactic. Consolidate your paid media and influencer within one agency so budgets and channel activation can be handled fluidly and with greater agility. 

  • #2 Be strategic with your influencer selection

Find influencers that authentically match your brand values, have a following that overlaps with your target audience, and use photography and video that complement your brand aesthetics. Read more here on how to match your influencer selection to your business goals.  

  • #3 Build accountability through measurement

Take a blended approach of measurement tactics to tie influencer spending back to meaningful metrics. For more clearly attributable sales, use discount codes or affiliate links that allow backend tracking. 

For help capitalizing on the true ROI of influencer marketing, reach out to Coegi for a strategy consultation today.

Cookieless Attribution and Measurement Solutions

Third party cookies have been the underpinning for most digital marketing performance measurement for over twenty years, which has allowed advertisers to measure post-click conversions and attribution for sales impact. As a result, channels like paid search and display retargeting typically stand out as ‘performance channels’. Simply put, third party cookie deprecation takes away the easy button of using off-the-self audiences and straightforward conversion tracking.  However, without third-party pixels, determining clear return on ad spend will become more challenging, especially for marketers who continue to rely on click-based attribution models.

Without cookies, it is imperative that you develop more meaningful ways of understanding how customers make decisions and how it impacts business results, a topic we recently covered on The Loop Marketing Podcast.

How to Calculate Marketing ROI in the Cookieless Future

In this new paradigm, marketers will need to rely more heavily on strategy to get the greatest and most accurate ROI

The ability to calculate marketing ROI starts with having a strong measurement strategy in place prior to campaign launch. Smart marketers know to look beyond online conversion tracking data and search for correlations with business performance to determine true directional success. Advertising campaigns need to be set-up to achieve business goals rather than just vanity metrics. It’s important to know when to incorporate more robust analytical solutions to understand what’s impacting your bottom line. 

Cookieless Marketing Measurement Solutions

Some methods for measuring media campaigns in the cookieless future include: 

  • Media mix modeling (MMM): MMM works by isolating one variable at a time to see the impact of removing or adding a tactic. It allows deeper understanding of how omnichannel campaigns work together and incrementally impact key outcomes. 
  • Advanced measurement studies: Exposed vs. control consumer studies track brand lift, sales lift or foot traffic lift to provide greater insights into the real impact of advertising on difficult-to-measure business goals. 
  • Overlaying multiple data sources: Brands can match up Google Analytics conversion data, or point-of-sale first party data, with paid media data. While more time and knowledge in terms of the analysis needed, this is effective to look beyond media data alone and instead looking holistically at the brand to understand marketing’s impact. 

Place less emphasis on media efficiency metrics and more emphasis on effectiveness. Look at correlations between business and media data to identify incremental conversions compared to your company baseline. 

To achieve this, marketers will need to identify leading indicators of success by channel and tactic and optimize towards those metrics.  

Will the cookieless future impact walled gardens?

Walled gardens, such as Facebook and Amazon, leverage their own first-party user data. As a result, cookie deprecation will affect them less in terms of targeting. 

Within platform confines, advertisers will still be able to track individual users, though the windows of attribution can vary. Due to this, walled gardens allow for brands to conduct some closed-loop measurement. That being said, there will be limitations on marketing attribution, and less deterministic targeting as user privacy laws continue to become stricter.

Walled garden advertiser pixels will have limited ability to pass back data to the platform in the cookieless world. We can expect front end marketing performance metrics to decline, even if backend business performance remains the same. Plan for shifts in attribution, using strategies like those laid out above, as we get closer to cookie deprecation.

Cookieless Attribution Tips

Begin testing and learning today to proactively understand what will and will not be effective in the cookieless future. 

  1. Begin benchmarking current performance ASAP: compare performance of cookie-based vs. cookieless tactics. Then, analyze backend ad performance data to determine the effect on business results and set expectations accordingly.
  2. Consolidate to fewer platforms, or find a way to ID map: Platforms are developing their own internal ID tracking frameworks. The more platforms you execute your media through, the more disparate measurement systems you have to consider. This will also minimize duplication across platforms. 

The deprecation of third-party cookies will undoubtedly impact the way marketers approach digital media. But a data-driven media plan tied into a holistic cookieless attribution model and measurement solution will ensure your business continues to grow by reaching the audience in the right place at the right time.

More Cookieless Future Resources:

Cookieless Targeting 101

The Countdown to Zero-Party Data

Understanding Implications of the Cookieless Future 

How to Uncover Insights in Marketing Research

The tools we use to conduct marketing research and understand our target audiences and industries are constantly evolving. Traditionally, syndicated research tools have been the go-to resources to understand media consumption and behaviors. But brand challenges require much more than knowing how many hours a day consumers watch TV to put together a successful marketing strategy. 

How to Find Meaningful Marketing Research Insights

Use both qualitative research and quantitative research to unveil unique marketing trends and audience learnings for brands. From social listening tools to focus groups to macro-level industry reports, you need multiple sources to achieve a 360 degree view with your marketing research. Instead of always turning to the same default tools and platforms, take on a journalistic mentality and get creative to discover unique insights that will differentiate your strategy from competitors. 

Lean into your creative side. Use out of the box tactics to search for answers to questions such as: 

  • What’s the press coverage on this topic? 
  • What changes are happening in the vertical? 
  • What’s happening in adjacent industries? 

From this type of information sourcing, you can then better contextualize the second or third party data embedded in syndicated research and build custom insights for your brand.

It’s also important to look at your own historical first party data, when available. Evaluate what’s been successful and not in order to provide a starting point to build baseline learnings.   

Balancing the Art and Science of Market Research

Marketing research is both an art and a science. You need some specific numbers to justify assumptions and hypotheses. But there’s also an element of simply trusting your intuition. A lot of times it’s right and a lot cheaper than running complex, time consuming studies. Your team’s instinct and experience is going to become increasingly valuable in finding insights and closing the gaps

Sometimes, simply putting yourself in your audience’s shoes and mimicking their behaviors reveals more than any survey could tell you. As an example, if your audience are heavy Twitter users and the data indicates they use certain hashtags – actually read through that content. Go to the subreddits they might frequent. Watch the Hulu shows they’re watching. Use this time of exploration to see if you can unveil something new about how your audience is living day to day.  

Avoiding Research Pitfalls

With so much data available, you can use research to essentially prove any point you want. This makes it easy for bias to creep into statistics, intentional or not. If you think the audience is Millennial Moms, there will undoubtedly be evidence somewhere pointing to confirm this assumption.

To avoid this, be transparent when your data does not back up your hypothesis. This is one of the more powerful things you can do to form trusting relationships with your colleagues and clients. It’s okay to admit if the research is refuting your initial assumption. Use this as an opportunity to build a bridge with this learning and adjust your strategy to continue making your marketing smarter.  

Additionally, when using third-party studies, it’s important to remember that people answering surveys aren’t always going to be completely truthful about their media consumption or lifestyle. Take a step back before blindly trusting what you’re reading and hearing.

Watch this video for more tips on avoiding common research mistakes:

Finding the Big Idea

Strategists are always digging for the ‘big idea’. The groundbreaking tactic, message, or plan the world has never seen before and will make you millions. If you have a predestined big idea in your head, don’t let that blind you from finding something even better. You need to ground yourself by exploring a variety of research sources without forcing anything. Allow the data to weave together a story rather than reverse engineering your predetermined story to create a successful path forward for your brand. 

 

In the impending privacy-first marketing landscape, there will be more emphasis on planning and finding the right research. Decision making is coming back to the hands of marketers, rather than left to platform algorithms. Take a balanced, creative approach to the market research process and unlock the most meaningful insights to improve your bottom line and build customer loyalty. 

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