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How advertisers can unlock the power of first-party data

As third-party data crumbles, advertisers need first-party data

Digital advertising has been powered by consumers’ personal data for more than a decade, and as privacy reshapes the way media is bought and sold, the industry needs to reset and rebuild.

There are three privacy shifts impacting digital advertising: increased interest from regulators across the globe; internet browsers moving away from third-party cookies and identifiers; consumers being more informed than ever about how their data is used. As a result, the third-party data that advertisers rely on for targeting and insights are disappearing and they need to get into discovery mode today.

With third-party cookies already blocked on Safari and Firefox, and Google removing third-party cookies from Chrome by 2023, advertisers will need to look to first-party data. This includes accessing publishers’ first-party data and leveraging their own first-party data too — no matter how much they have available.

While there is no shortage of cookieless solutions available on the market today, what advertisers and their agencies need is a solution that is privacy-safe and sustainable. By testing and activating campaigns using the power of publishers’ and their own first-party data — combined with the right adtech to scale it — advertisers can safeguard their businesses, protect privacy and take control of their fate.

The first-party data gold rush

Every marketer knows that first-party data from consumers is like gold dust. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands have a huge advantage by virtue of a business model built on direct relationships with their customers. This opens up a treasure trove of first-party data available at their fingertips. For more traditional brands and retailers, investments in loyalty programs or other owned digital platforms and a greater focus on the customer experience (CX) means that many will have more first-party data than they might think.

But advertisers, wherever they are on their data journey, cannot rely on their first-party data alone as it won’t have scale. It needs to be combined with insight on how and where customers interact across the web. This insight sits with publishers because they have a first-party relationship with everyone who comes to their site.

“The reality of a brand’s first-party data is that it won’t be enough, it certainly won’t be enough to build scalable marketing activity,” said Elizabeth Brennan, head of advertiser strategy at Permutive. “It’s really important for advertisers to work with tech players and infrastructure vendors who can access 100% of a population rather than those who just have an identifier. Publishers are going to become the guardians of targetable, scalable data in the new privacy-first way of working.”

Publishers have been preparing for this cookieless world since Apple and Mozilla blocked third-party cookies from their browsers. Today, advertisers cannot reach audiences on Safari and Firefox, and when third-party cookies on Chrome disappear, so too does the understanding of all audiences online.

Publishers can tell advertisers a lot more about their audiences, behavioral insights they can't get elsewhere – all without invading their privacy. This is made possible by using first-party data to build Publisher Cohorts, which are groups of consumers with shared characteristics built directly at the source and proven to outperform campaigns that use third-party cookies.

In an advertising ecosystem that's being disrupted by privacy, publishers are the ones that have customer proximity, and they are using technology as an enabler to capture every interaction on-site in a privacy-safe way that safeguards data. Plus, they have access to the real-time insights required to build valuable cohorts for advertisers to use for targeting and insights.

Performance and privacy – with no trade-offs

Permutive’s Audience Platform for Advertisers has been designed to help strengthen and action the valuable data that publishers and advertisers hold while keeping it safe. It enables advertisers to connect with other data owners, such as publishers, to reach their audiences online by harnessing the power of both parties’ first-party data via one privacy-safe streamlined point of access.

What’s more, it is powered by privacy-preserving edge or on-device technology, which means that data is processed on a user's device. This ensures that personal data and identifiers stay on the device, doesn't leak into the advertising ecosystem and makes it possible for data processing to happen in real-time.

Data never exits the platform, so publishers and advertisers maintain full data control all the way from insights through to activation. It gives advertisers the choice to bring in their own data to match and model – without exposing that data to the other party – or tap into publishers’ first-party data, or use both sources.

“It’s really an infrastructure for advertisers to understand their first-party data, upload it securely and get insights on how those people are spread across different devices, their interests and affinities,” explained Brennan. “Insights are very powerful but it’s the activation of that data that becomes incredibly important. We do that by scaling existing audiences through the access of first-party data to publishers and using that to reflect the audience definitions being built in third-party data today. To manage multiple publisher relationships in one place is a huge efficiency saving. What’s more, the technology is proven and it’s ready and waiting to be used today.”

In the age of the data reset, advertisers should be embracing first-party data more than ever before. And, by tapping into the treasure trove of data and insight that publishers hold about how and where customers interact across the web, advertisers can access the privacy-safe, sustainable cookieless solution they have all been waiting for.

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