First-party data will fuel the final frontier of digital marketing

Jordan Cohen, CMO, Fluent

We’re drowning in data. Ad tech scrapes up the tiny particles of information that digital consumers leave behind, then assembles them into an approximate picture of a person. But why bother using probabilistic data, making assumptions  about the consumer when you can just ask them?

Self-declared data has been undervalued for too long in a digital marketing industry that has been obsessed with big data initiatives. But finally, the individual is making a comeback, and those trusty sources of first-hand info may be just the tonic that an ailing industry needs.

The first-party movement is being driven both by and for powerful targeting tools, like Facebook’s custom audiences, which allows marketers to deterministically target their most engaged audiences, rather than building them guess-and-check style from probabilistic, data-based approximations. But in order to be successful at it you have to actually own first-party data.

A new generation of digital marketing tools are making people-based campaigns an accessible reality. Marketers are leaving behind the world of semi-anonymous third party data in favor of marketing strategies that target actual human beings. Ad tech has made huge advances in collecting and using third party data. But targeting a broad demographic category, a carefully crafted segment, or even an expertly crafted lookalike profile can’t compare with reaching real people with self-declared interests, tastes, and preferences.

Targeted CRM campaigns are nothing new, but now first-party data can be used to re-target individuals through multiple digital channels. The industry’s other 800-pound gorilla, Google, is now in the game as well, allowing marketers to expand a people-based campaign well beyond the walls of Facebook. With Customer Match, first-party data can power the same kind of personalized targeting for search, YouTube, and Gmail campaigns.

Great strides have been made toward the final frontier of addressable television (especially by AT&T’s adworks platform and  DISH Network), and of course digital video. Although still emerging, addressable television is poised to greatly alter television advertising and the way consumers experience it, as marketers are able to match preferences, interests, and personal information to individual television subscribers, making the experience more personal and less prone to being tuned out.  The underlying currency driving transformation is first-party data tied to a valid primary email address.

Companies that specialize in rapid acquisition of high-volume first-party data have an opportunity to drive this transformation. No longer confined to traditional direct marketing campaigns, first-party data is the fuel that will propel people-based campaigns on the world’s largest digital stages – the massive audience platforms powered by Facebook and Google. With these web shifting forces tilting in the direct of self-declared data, the first-party revolution is poised to transform not just the way we deliver ads, but the way consumers experience advertising itself.

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