Data 101: First, Second, and Third-Party Data Defined

man looking at a computer with data on it

April 17, 2024

With the removal of third-party cookies, marketers have entered a new data climate, and understanding data types has become the new cornerstone of strategic targeting. This shift in focus encourages businesses to tailor their initiatives with precision and connect more effectively with their target audience than ever before. As a B2B company looking to effectively execute your advertising strategies, understanding the nuances of first, second, and third-party data is paramount in driving impactful campaigns that resonate with your consumers. 

What is first-party data?

First-party data is information directly sourced from your interactions with consumers. This data, generated from website visits, email marketing campaigns, and customer transactions, offers unparalleled insights into your customers' preferences, behaviors, and purchasing patterns. By leveraging this data effectively, you can craft personalized marketing strategies, nurture existing customer relationships, and target prospective customers with tailored messages, fostering trust and loyalty in your brand. First-party data holds immense value for advertisers keen on maximizing their reach and impact.

Sources of first-party data: 

  • Web analytics  
  • CRM 
  • Purchases 
  • Surveys 
  • Social listening 

What is second-party data?

Turning the focus to second-party data, these insights originate from publishers and platforms where you wish to advertise. Collaborating with these trusted partners allows you to access a wealth of data relevant to your target audience, enhancing your targeting precision and expanding your reach. By harnessing second-party data through strategic partnerships, you can refine your audience segmentation, optimize campaign performance, and deliver more relevant and engaging advertisements to the right audience at the right time, driving conversion and engagement rates. 

A good example of this relationship is Multiview’s partnership with associations to provide B2B businesses with trusted, niche advertising spaces. Clients who leverage association media and contextual advertising can rest in knowing that their ads are reaching a highly curated professional audience that fits their target market.  

Sources of second-party data: 

  • Associations 
  • Partnerships  
  • Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) 
  • Data-sharing agreements 

What is third-party data?

Third-party data, also known as zero-party data, goes beyond your direct interactions, providing a broader perspective by sourcing information from external entities, such as data brokers and aggregators. Access to this data type usually requires you to pay the holder. For example, B2C companies may want to purchase access to Mastercard’s user data so that they can target prospective customers based on past purchases. However, B2B companies have historically leaned away from third-party data considering their need for a niche reach that broad data sets can’t provide

While this data may lack the depth of first-party insights, it can offer a comprehensive view of market trends, consumer behaviors, and industry benchmarks. By incorporating carefully curated third-party data into your analytics and targeting strategies, you can complement your existing data assets, gain a holistic understanding of the competitive landscape, and identify new opportunities for growth and expansion.  

Sources of third-party data: 

  • Data brokers  
  • Data aggregators 
  • Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 
  • Market research firms 

Yariv Driori, Frank Rosenstern, and Tim Tsafaridis discuss the state of cookies and how to navigate changes in data regulations in this Q&A style webinar. 

How to leverage data types

This shift not only fosters greater trust and transparency but also encourages marketers to focus on cultivating authentic connections with their audience, leading to more meaningful engagement and sustainable growth. To prevent data burnout, each data type should be leveraged appropriately, ensuring the most strategic approach:  

  • First-party data: B2B businesses have a unique opportunity to leverage the wealth of information at their disposal to deliver targeted, relevant campaigns that resonate with their audience on a deeper level, setting the stage for a more effective and engaging advertising landscape. 
  • Second-party data: With opportunities like contextual advertising and association media, B2B businesses can capitalize on second-party data by forming strategic partnerships with trusted entities to exchange valuable insights and enhance targeting precision. This promotes stronger collaboration within the industry, fostering synergistic relationships that benefit all parties involved.  
  • Third-party data: While its role is evolving due to privacy concerns and regulations, B2B businesses can still leverage this data judiciously in conjunction with other data sources to augment their understanding of broader market trends and consumer behaviors. However, it's crucial for businesses to prioritize data quality and compliance. 



By harnessing the power of first, second, and third-party data, B2B companies can unlock a world of possibilities, optimizing ad targeting, and driving sustainable growth. Embracing a data-driven approach enables you to make informed decisions, engage your audience authentically, and stay ahead in today's dynamic and competitive marketing landscape.  



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