Optmyzr Blog

First-Party Data Guide for the Ethics-Driven Marketer

Feb 05, 2024
Guide Strategy

Vimal Bharadwaj

Content Marketing Manager



Google started blocking third-party cookies for 1% of Chrome users (nearly 30 million people) on January 4th, 2024. It’ll gradually ramp this up to the rest of the 99% by the end of 2024.

As a replacement for third-party cookies, Google introduced ‘Topics’ which will categorize users into a list of interest-based topics in an anonymized manner. You’ll still be able to show users ads, but you won’t be able to use granular targeting based on the specifics of what they have engaged with across different websites.

My initial thoughts: the “consumer” side of my brain thinks this is certainly good news because I can now browse the web more privately. But the “marketer” side of my brain realizes this is not going to make my job any easier.

However, this has been the trend across the industry for quite a while now. Here’s a quick run-through of important events related to the end of third-party cookies.




Apple implements the first version of ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention) on the Safari browser


GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) goes into effect


Mozilla Firefox blocks third-party cookies


Safari blocks third-party cookies


CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) goes into effect


Apple rolls out iOS 14, giving users the ability to opt out of ad tracking


Third-party cookies lose access to 71% of open web traffic


Google Chrome begins phasing out third-party cookies

Of course, the real marketing Gs know that the solution to all this is to invest in first-party data where you own the relationship with your audience directly.

What Is First-Party Data?

First-party data is information you collect directly from your audience with their consent. It is information based on how they interact with your website: behaviors, actions, and interests.

How Is First-Party Data Different From Third-Party Data?

Third-party data is compiled by independent researchers and companies who aggregate information from various websites and applications. Based on individual users’ online activity, this data is often sold to businesses for marketing and advertising purposes.

Here are some differences between the two and also how first-party data is better than third-party data.


First-Party Data

Third-Party Data

Accuracy and Reliability

Highly accurate and reliable, reflecting real customer interactions

Often less accurate, lacks depth, and lacks context

Understanding Customers

Allows granular understanding of personalized marketing campaigns

Generic and lacks depth for effective targeting

Privacy and Trust

Generally compliant with privacy regulations, building trust with customers

Raises privacy concerns, potential legal challenges, and erodes trust

Ownership and Control

Owned and fully controlled by your business, allowing management according to privacy policies

Owned and controlled by external entities, making your business vulnerable to changes and restrictions

Data Enrichment

Can be enriched with additional information over time, enabling accurate segmentation and personalization

Lacks flexibility for easy enrichment, limiting personalization options

Building Customer Relationships

Easier to build long-term relationships through personalized shopping experiences

May result in fewer personal interactions and lower customer loyalty

So, What Is Second-Party Data?

Second-party data is someone else’s first-party data. You borrow your neighbor’s cookies, freshly baked and privacy-focused, but you gotta ask nicely (or pay).

Why Is Google Phasing Out Third-Party Cookies?

We believe there are five reasons why Google is deprecating third-party cookies.

1. Privacy-First Web Experience: Google aims to create a more privacy-focused web experience by phasing out third-party cookies.

2. Abundance of Individual User Data: Third-party cookies have led to an overwhelming amount of individual user data being accessible to numerous brands and companies, prompting concerns about user privacy.

3. User Perception: Over 72% of users feel that advertisers and companies are extensively tracking their online activities, contributing to a negative perception of online tracking.

4. Enhancing Online Experience: Google wants to provide users with the best online experience, and the removal of third-party cookies is seen as a step toward achieving this goal.

5. Alignment with Industry Trends: Other search engines like Firefox and Safari have already phased out third-party cookies, and Google’s decision aligns with industry trends toward increased privacy measures.

How To Make The Shift Toward First-Party Data?

First-party data is often misunderstood and underutilized. Many businesses freeze in the face of privacy regulations and need help understanding its concept and impact.

Ronan Carrein, a former Google executive and current partner at the agency, Better & Stronger emphasizes that first-party data should not be perceived as a constraint, but rather as a driver of better business hygiene and higher ROI.

“There are several roadblocks preventing businesses from fully adopting and leveraging first-party data. Lack of data governance, intent, planning & understanding, and specialized skill sets are major obstacles.” - Ronan Carrein

He spoke to our Co-founder & CEO, Frederick Vallaeys on PPC Town Hall and discussed how businesses can effectively collect and work with first-party data.

In the episode, Ronan shared five tips for effective first-party data collection.

  • Focus on building a meaningful brand interaction with your audiences rather than tricking them into sharing their data. You need to provide value, develop trust, and collect valuable information in return.
  • Start with simple steps. Collect all the data you can, including transactional CRM data, in a consented manner and segment based on different criteria, such as value tiers or lifetime value.
  • Target high-value customers separately and bid more on audiences who resemble these high-value segments.
  • Invest in hiring and training your employees to continue good data collection practices and manage data properly.
  • Maintain good business data hygiene. Understand which data sources are valuable to you and where they come from. Have somebody responsible for data governance to ensure that all data is used appropriately and the meaning behind that data is consistent across your organization.

People talk about GDPR “compliance”, for example, as if it’s not a whole-company initiative and is just something to do with their analytics. First-party data should be something your entire business should run on and not just something only your marketing team cares about.

How To Collect And Use First-Party Data For Your PPC Campaigns?

Watch the PPC Town Hall episode featuring Kerri Amodio - Director, of Digital Advertising at Closed Loop, and Navah Hopkins - Evangelist at Optmyzr below to learn how to collect and manage first-party data.

You first need a solid strategy to collect first-party data effectively. Here are five steps to build one.

1. Define Your Data Collection Goals.

Identify how you want to use your first-party data. Are you aiming for increased sales or seeking to boost customer loyalty?

Then, set clear objectives to track progress and quantify its impact. Did your targeted ads lead to higher conversions? Did personalized recommendations contribute to a reduced churn rate?

Some examples of first-party data goals:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Boosting customer acquisition
  • Personalizing customer journey
  • Improving customer service
  • Building brand loyalty

2. Figure Out Data Collection And Management.

Identify what data you already collect: website visits, email signups, purchase history, etc. Then find more sources. Here are some common ones.

  • Website or App Analytics: Track user interactions like demographics, location, page views, clicks, purchases, and time spent.
  • Email Marketing Lists: Gather subscriber data from email campaigns, newsletters, and interactions.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems: Store customer profile information, purchase history, service interactions, and more.
  • Social Media Accounts: Collect data from profiles and interactions with your company’s social media pages.
  • Surveys: Collect data points like demographics, email, contact information, and more through surveys.
  • Customer Feedback: Gather feedback through conversations, product reviews, and other channels.

Remember: User consent is crucial for collecting first-party data.

Doug Thomas of Magniventris, an ethical digital marketing firm, emphasizes user consent. He says ->

“Managing first-party data starts with knowing what you’ve collected and what you have. It’s important to understand what data is useful for marketing and what isn’t. And the next question is “Has the person consented to that use of their data?” It’s your call as an advertiser what “consent” means, but asking this question is an important one.” - Doug Thomas

Next, determine where this data is stored. Experts suggest using a CRM or a CDP (Customer Data Platform) or a marketing automation platform.

Navah Hopkins says using a CRM is necessary for any business.

“A common misconception in the e-commerce industry is that a CRM is unnecessary if you’ve already received payment from customers. This misconception often arises from the belief that the platform itself will handle everything. However, neglecting to implement a CRM can hinder your ability to generate repeat sales and maintain a loyal customer base.” - Navah Hopkins

Duane Brown, CEO & Head of Strategy at the agency, Take Some Risk (which works with ecommerce, DTC, and retail brands) also recommends using a CRM to store and manage user data.

He adds they use Zapier to connect their clients’ Shopify accounts to Google Ads for managing ad campaigns and automating the data moving back and forth.

While collecting data, understand that different stages of your customer journey call for different tactics.

Chris Murray, Performance Marketing Manager at Kolekti talks more about it.

“We’re making first-party data collection a key part of our PPC strategies, actively valuing building the data pool, and pushing campaigns optimizing towards these ‘micro’ conversions. Somewhat counterintuitively, we’re still opening up more content and upping production of this to provide value early, but then adding gates or contact requests to pages and content that sit lower down the funnel. We’re also investing in new content tools to help, waving goodbye to static PDFs and creating more engaging destinations for our campaigns.”

However, your tactics should also vary depending on the type of client or business you work with and seasonality.

Meriem Nacer, Consultant at 4M Digital Consulting Ltd. breaks down how they approach it differently for ecommerce and B2B clients in their agency.

“Many of our ecommerce clients utilize loyalty schemes. Q4 presents a prime opportunity for us to enhance these schemes, especially since those who are already signed up can gain early access to Black Friday deals. Outside of Q4, we try to entice new sign-ups with birthday surprises and early access to sales.

In the case of B2B clients, the focus involves sharing knowledge and whitepapers, often gated behind a sign-up wall. While this strategy effectively builds our email list, unfortunately, these emails are typically the work domain. To utilize these lists in Google Ads, we usually need three to four times the data volume compared to ecommerce.”

3. Analyze Your Audience Behavior.

While you’re gathering data from your audiences, you can begin analyzing their behavior. Let’s take website analytics as an example of a data source from the above list of data sources and understand the insights we can draw from our analysis.

  • Track Device Usage: Identify the top devices (mobile, desktop, tablet) your audience uses. This helps optimize your website design for a better user experience which factors into better conversion rates.
  • Monitor Bounce Rate: High bounce rates on specific pages indicate user dissatisfaction. To fix that, you can optimize content, images, and CTAs on those pages to improve engagement.
  • Analyze Conversion Rates: Identify pages and strategies driving conversions. Optimize underperforming pages and capitalize on the ones that are successful.
  • Track Time on Page: Longer engagement usually indicates higher user interest. Analyze popular pages to understand what keeps users engaged.
  • Identify Traffic Sources: Analyze which sources drive the most traffic and leads. Focus on optimizing the ones that are successful and improving those that need more work.

The next you should do is analyze user trends. Your previous customers who purchased your products or services can help you learn valuable insights. Let’s take your CRM as an example to know what insights you can derive from them.

  • Analyze Customer Demographics: Understand the age, gender, location, and interests of your customers.
  • Identify Purchase History: Track what products or services customers buy and when. This reveals preferences and buying patterns.
  • Combine Data Points: Combine demographics, interests, and purchase history to identify common customer trends.

These trends help you refine your target audience and narrow down your ideal customer profile for targeted marketing campaigns.

4. Apply The Findings From Those Insights.

One of the first steps in running an effective campaign is linking your accounts and setting up conversion tracking.

Here’s Navah Hopkins and Kerri Amodio talking about how advertisers can apply first-party data insights to their campaigns with proper conversion tracking.

5. Regularly Review Your Strategy And Make Adjustments As Needed.

Working with first-party data is a continuous process. You need to regularly review your strategy and make the necessary adjustments. 

You also need to make sure there’s no data decay and that the customer data is staying up-to-date. Doug Thomas of Magniventris further adds,

“For decay, the best thing to do is to cross reference and update on collection. If you’re doing it manually, you can have someone’s name be their index. If you’re doing it automatically, maybe email or a customer ID would be a better path.”

And you need to create a communication plan that involves multiple teams in your company to encourage data-driven decision-making across all of them.

Here’s Chris Murray again ->

“I’d suggest clear data governance processes and open lines of communication are the key to preparing for first-party data decay. Top priority, make friends with your Customer Success Managers, Sales teams, or anybody who’s in regular touch with your end customer. They’re closest to this data as they speak to customers and leads daily, so they know whether that enterprise company’s contacts you want to add to a retargeting audience are still up to date or if there are new names and addresses. If you’re in close communication with Email Marketers, CRM Admins, Customer Success, and Sales, you can be confident you’re working with up-to-date first-party data.”

Working with first-party data has lots of moving parts and many variables. And you can expect more policies around user privacy in the future. That’s why you also need to stay informed and adapt accordingly.

AI and privacy-centric marketing are going to be the two difference makers for businesses to grow in 2024.

Conquer A Cookieless Future With Data-Driven Advertising

You’ll likely see speed bumps on the road. But, a shift to first-party data can lead you to a better understanding of your customer journey, better decision-making, and ultimately greater results for your business.

And if you’re a business that spends money on advertising, and is looking to get better control over your ad campaigns, give Optmyzr a try. Thousands of advertisers — from small agencies to big brands — worldwide use Optmyzr to manage over $5 billion in ad spend every year. 

Sign up for a 14-day free trial today. Plus, if you want to know how Optmyzr’s various features help you in detail, talk to one of our experts today for a consultation call.