Zero-Party Data and First-Party Data: Leveraging Data Science for Media Attribution

What is Zero-Party Data?

Zero-Party data is information customers share with brands in exchange for customized experiences catered to their individual preferences, wants, and needs. Types of Zero-Party data include:

  • Personal characteristics like apparel size, style, and purchase intentions/plans;
  • Preference center data, such as how often you would like to be communicated with by a brand and by which method (eg. text or email);
  • Personal context, such as interests, motivations, knowledge and concerns;
  • And the ways consumers want brands to recognize and identify their individual,  unique attributes and preferences
Zero- vs. First-Party Data
When shopping online, have you ever participated in a questionnaire that asks about your personal style preferences, skin type, favorite scents, etc.? These quizzes or surveys gather Zero-Party data in exchange for personalized product recommendations and brand experiences. Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys and requests for  information during opt-in are additional examples of compliant, Zero-Party data collection.

So why is Zero-Party data so important? As technology becomes more and more embedded in our lives, increased privacy regulations continue to roll-out. Privacy-first technology is changing user preferences, and internet giants are reflecting these changes as the reality of data deprecation sets in.  Google Chrome is aiming to remove third-party cookies. Meanwhile, Apple’s iOS 14.5 updates make it possible for users to opt-out of cross-platform tracking. 

Zero-Party data is important because people provide it willingly. In other words, it’s reliable information to fuel successful, personalized advertising campaigns. As third-party data phases out, media agencies must be savvy in Zero-Party data collection and usage for future-proofed, privacy-compliant marketing. 

What is First-Party Data?

First-Party data is information marketers collect directly from consumers. Whereas Second- and Third-Party data involve purchasing data from partner and data-provider companies, companies collect First-Party data using their own sources–both online and offline. As such, it is especially accurate, cost-effective, and integratable. Examples of First-Party data include

  • Basic information like name, email address, phone number, etc. 
  • Demographic information 
  • Online behaviors like content downloads, comments, social media profiles, etc. 
  • Purchase information 

First-Party data collection occurs via website and app analytics, CRMs, users’ social media profiles, subscription-based emails, surveys, and customer feedback. If you’ve ever created an Instagram account, or signed up for a subscription with your email address, you provided First-Party data. 

Why is First-Party data important? Similar to Zero-Party data, First-Party data is more compliant with privacy regulations because its collection involves consumer consent. Because First-Party data sources directly from consumers themselves, it is highly accurate, and helps to create segmented audiences for targeted campaigns. Keep in mind, 85% of B2B companies believe increasing the use of First-Party data is key to their success. 

How Does Zero- and First-Party Data Integrate with Attribution?

Media Attribution is the process of using data to identify which channels are bringing in the strongest return. Unsurprisingly, Zero- and First-Party data play important roles within the attribution process. 

First-Party data enhances digital media strategies by illuminating the various touch points consumers interact with on the path to conversion. Prioritizing First-Party data collection translates into accurate, actionable insights for the most important consumer touch points. This results in optimized budget allocation, conversion mapping, and greater Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

Once First-Party data identifies the most important touch points, Zero-Party data facilitates customization. Contextualizing your touch points according to the “conversational” information Zero-Party data solicits heightens the consumer experience, increasing brand loyalty and consumers’ willingness to share information. 

Given the fact that approximately 96% of U.S. users opted-out of app tracking in the iOS 14.5 Apple update, understanding how to collect and leverage First- and Zero-Party data is essential to modern media planning and buying.

An Attribution Case Study (Zero- and First-Party Data Edition!)

For over 15 years, Marketing Doctor has been the agency of record for a multi state regional brand. Growth-oriented and ambitious, this client expanded from one state to five, and is on track to become a national brand. 

Besides national expansion and boosted brand recognition, this client prioritizes personalized, omnichannel customer acquisition. Marketing Doctor collaborates with the client to: 

  1. Generate high-quality, new customer leads 
  2. Increase the volume of new business

To achieve these goals, one of our tactics involves Zero- and First-Party data. 

We collect Zero-Party data by guiding users to submit an easy, free form. We discern the topics most relevant to the needs and wants of our client’s consumer-base and personalize E-Blasts accordingly. The Marketing Doctor team leverages Zero-Party data to optimize Lookalike audiences and retargeting strategies for digital advertising. 

First-Party data includes sales-qualified leads aka SQLs. Marketing Doctor uses this data to feed Lookalike audiences, in addition to optimizing Google Click ID aka GCLID, which in turn feeds Google’s targeting algorithm.  

Integrating Zero- and First-Party data with attribution methodology has resulted in 36.5% decrease in cost per customer acquisition and a 793% increase in leads.

Want Better Results?

In a world of endless data, knowing how to leverage it and deliver optimal marketing results is paramount. If you have an advertising goal, we have a plan to reach it AND track it. Let’s talk.

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