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Feb. 15, 2024

Understanding First Party Data vs. Third Party Data in Digital Advertising

First Party vs Third Party Data
4 min read

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital advertising, data reigns supreme. It's the lifeblood that fuels targeted campaigns, personalized messaging, and optimized strategies. However, as recent changes in policies and software from tech giants like Apple and Google shake up the industry, understanding the nuances between first party data and third party data has become paramount for marketers.

First Party Data: Your Goldmine

First party data refers to information collected directly from your audience or customers. This data is obtained through interactions with your brand's website, mobile app, or other owned channels. It's incredibly valuable because it offers insights into the behavior, preferences, and demographics of your most engaged users. Examples of first party data include:

Third Party Data: Expanding Your Reach

On the other hand, third party data is sourced from external providers or partners. This data is aggregated from various sources and can provide a broader view of consumer behavior across different platforms and industries. While third party data can enrich audience profiles and extend targeting capabilities, it lacks the depth and specificity of first party data. Examples of third party data include:

The Impact of Policy Changes

Recent and upcoming changes in policies and software, particularly from tech giants like Apple and Google, are reshaping the digital advertising landscape. Measures such as Apple's App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework and Google's Privacy Sandbox initiative are aimed at enhancing user privacy and giving individuals more control over their data. These changes have significant implications for marketers:

Reduced Access to Third Party Data

With stricter privacy policies and limitations on tracking mechanisms, access to third party data is becoming more challenging. Marketers will need to rely less on external data sources and prioritize building and leveraging their first party data assets.

Shift Toward Contextual Targeting

As traditional targeting methods based on third party data become less reliable, there's a growing emphasis on contextual targeting. This involves delivering ads based on the content of the webpage or app, rather than individual user data. Marketers will need to adapt their strategies to align with these changes and explore alternative targeting approaches.

Emphasis on Consent and Transparency

Transparency and consent are becoming central pillars of digital advertising. Marketers must ensure compliance with regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), as well as prioritize obtaining explicit consent from users for data collection and usage.

How to Prepare for Third Party Data Blocking

In the face of these shifts, adaptability and innovation will be key for marketers to thrive in the new era of digital advertising. Here are some strategies to consider:

Invest in First Party Data

Double down on efforts to collect, analyze, and leverage first party data. This may involve optimizing your website and mobile app for data capture, implementing robust CRM systems, and incentivizing users to share their information.

Explore Alternative Data Sources

While third party data may become scarcer, explore alternative data sources and partnerships that align with privacy-conscious practices. Consider collaborating with trusted publishers, leveraging second party data exchanges, or investing in advanced analytics techniques like predictive modeling.

Focus on Value Exchange

Build trust with your audience by prioritizing transparency, consent, and value exchange. Clearly communicate the benefits of data sharing and provide users with control over their privacy settings. Offer personalized experiences and relevant content in exchange for their data.

Diversify Your Advertising Channels

Reduce reliance on platforms heavily impacted by policy changes and explore diversifying your advertising channels. This may involve investing in emerging platforms, exploring niche ad networks, or integrating offline channels into your marketing mix.


As the digital advertising landscape undergoes seismic shifts, understanding the distinction between first party data and third party data is essential for marketers to navigate these changes effectively. By prioritizing the development of first party data assets, embracing privacy-conscious practices, and staying agile in their strategies, marketers can not only weather the storm but emerge stronger and more resilient in the post-cookie era.

Contact us. VanNoppen Marketing can help you prepare.

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