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The Emergence of First-Party Data

First-party data is starting to become the most important asset for organizations and marketers. So what exactly is first-party data and how can it be used to help your organization grow?  

Peter Beer

Data is something that touches almost every aspect of our lives as digital consumers. In some instances, it can be helpful and create something a bit more personal, but in other instances, it can be a bit aggressive. One minute you are casually looking at a product that you thought of buying and in the next minute, you are hit with ads about that same product on an entirely different website. 

Serving retargeting ads can be a challenge if not done tastefully. Consumers don’t want to feel like they are being targeted- the buying - or the conversion - should happen in a way that feels most natural to the consumer. So while the industry is navigating a new world of cookie-less traffic, here are some of our takes on first-party data and how it should be implemented as part of any organization’s digital strategy.

So, what is First-Party Data?

First-party data is information that you collect directly from your audience and customers, which is exactly where its value lies. To break it down a bit further, there are typically two types of first-party datasets: behavioral and personal. Behavioral data are the unique characteristics of a person’s actions demonstrated across various media platforms whereas personal data is the data that identifies the person with labels like name, email address, where they’re from- all of the information that helps in telling the story of who that user is. Behavioral data essentially gives users a unique ID that represents them and all of their actions in each session, whether it is the pages they view, how much time they spend engaging with content, and more. On the other hand, personal data is data and insights that come from users sharing data, such as answering questions about fans’ favorite players, style of merch, or just inputting their contact information like an email address or phone number.

First-party data is the most valuable set of consumer data because it comes directly from the source, and is the most accurate data an organization can have on its audience. When a company owns this data, they are able to utilize it at their convenience for personalized marketing, business strategy, development, and promotion. Owning your audience’s data is much more reliable and useful than having to go off of second or third-party data, where the data is purchased from an outside source (think Google, Facebook, etc.) and doesn’t allow for an understanding of exactly who is behind that user profile. 

How can it be used?

First-party data has numerous uses and holds a high value for marketers and organizations seeking to develop more personalized and fully data-driven marketing strategies. Data provides deeper audience insights into customer characteristics and can be used as an effective method in predicting and evaluating future consumer trends.

Another valuable use of first-party data is how it creates the opportunity for personalized content and targeted advertising. First-party data enables organizations to personalize fan engagement and marketing to enhance the individual fan experience. The utilization of first-party data for audience outreach and interaction is mutually beneficial for both the organization and the consumer. Knowledge is power, and the organization is able to save time and money with its marketing efforts while maximizing profits by knowing how to market to each specific consumer. And from a direct consumer perspective, first-party data utilization is beneficial as they gain exposure to the products they want, instead of being bombarded by information and deals that have no relevance/connection to them. For example, if I am a fan of Borussia Dortmund, but I live in California, it would be much more valuable for both parties if I received news and promotions on player and team merchandise, rather than ticket packages for attending upcoming games.

How Pico Helps Capture and Implement First-Party Data Marketing Strategies

A survey conducted in Merkle’s 2021 Customer Engagement Report found that “88% of marketers say collecting first-party data is a 2021 priority.” In the sports industry, we’ve found that a great way to collect first-party data is through pairing digital activations with the team’s digital content. We know for a fact that sports teams have some of the highest engagement rates across social, so the audience is there, the engagement is there, but the data capture isn’t. Pico offers a variety of these digital activations that are customizable to fit any marketing and outreach strategy. Through activations such as “Predict the Lineup”, Trivia, and Fan Voting, which are often found in sports media, Pico can help turn that anonymous engagement into identifiable fan profiles, that allows for learning more about who is behind the likes, comments, and shares of posts and understand engagement patterns, content preferences, and unique purchasing habits. 

Uncovering first-party data enables your team to engage fans on a more personal and efficient level. Activations are effective in not only collecting first-party data but also engaging fans and creating a new type of digital fan experience. Additionally,  first-party data can be utilized to promote a team’s sponsorships and business partners. For example, one of the Los Angeles Clippers’ primary sponsors is Honey. The Clippers can customize and use a digital activation such as “Tap-It”, which promotes both Honey and the team, rewarding winners with discount codes they can use in the team store. As a bonus, brand logos are placed on the most personalized devices of consumers in a completely organic, non-intrusive way. Utilizing activations in this way creates additional exposure for a chief sponsor of the team while also enabling the team to continue collecting valuable first-party data and measuring fan engagement levels. Data can be collected when participants enter their email address or phone number at the beginning to be notified of contest winners; simultaneously, organizations can build their database of fans while helping their sponsors learn who is engaging with their brand.  

Misconceptions Behind First-Party Data

In today’s day and age, privacy concerns over the internet and media are prominent, and rightfully so. Per Salesforce.com’s “State of the Connected Customer” survey, “83% of consumers are concerned about sharing personal data online and 72% would stop buying from a company or using a service because of privacy concerns.” Much of this skepticism is because many companies will collect unsolicited information and sell it to other sources. With privacy laws, organizations are only able to collect data that users consent to concede and other basic information such as which web pages the user interacts with or what items they purchase from the source they consent to. 

Even with privacy laws, the key to a successful relationship between an organization and its audience is transparency. It is vital to be upfront with fans and consumers about what information is being collected, why it is being collected, and the benefits to the user; by doing this, organizations build a strong tie of loyalty and trust with their fans. The utilization of first-party data is safe for both the organization and user because the organization or team is the entity that owns the data, opposed to a random third-party group selling the data to other companies. Once again, the key to trust and proper use of first-party data is transparency and disclosure of intentions between the organization and fan. 

All in all, first-party data is demonstrating its value with marketing and fan engagement in the sports industry, and there’s no better way to capture it than through an engaging and unique digital activation.

Ready to start owning first-party data on your audience? Contact us today to get started.




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