Marketing data is no longer in short supply. Today’s world is abuzz with information, and the word data is easily tossed around by pretty much everyone, everywhere. We all have access to some form of data, and we are all just as easily a part of some data group.
Data can be personal, communal, free, expensive, big, qualitative, detailed, broad—the list can go on and on. Is it possible for the one word to incorporate all of these varying conceptions? Or is data as we know it just one persistent misconception?
Here’s Merriam-Webster’s take on a simple definition of data: facts or information used usually to calculate, analyze, or plan something; information that is produced or stored by a computer.
The inclusion of “computer” may modernize our understanding a bit, but that’s about the extent of it. Let’s try narrowing our objective to quality data for the sake of a more useful discussion.
What makes quality marketing data? The same thing that makes it useful. We easily get more granular by considering only the data that’s utilized in advertising and marketing campaigns—data that’s successful in driving brand awareness and sales outcomes.
Because the world of digital marketing isn’t spared from the host of data misconceptions, let’s zero in on the three main categories of data to grasp the differences of each.
First-party data: This is your own data. It’s the highly relevant and quality information collected by your company website, as one example, thus revealing true interest in what you have to offer. It’s essentially free and includes anything from the data your CRM captures, marketing survey insights, on-site audience behaviors, or any other way you’re collecting the information on your target audience. Too bad it’s so scarce.
Second-party data: In a nutshell, this data set ensures transparent access to a trusted and relevant partner’s first-party data. Second-party data assures a cooperative relationship that can be preexisting (a brand that already sells through a retailer) or entirely new (no clearly defined relationship…yet), creating a new means for advertising revenue and greater brand awareness.
Third-party data: Data that is aggregated through various external platforms and websites, and provided by numerous providers. Third-party data is made up of broad segments that a data management platform (DMP) compiles from many different anonymous data sources. This data segment is highly scalable but lacks transparency. Exclusive data? Not so much.
The dilemma? These data sets aren’t spared from misconceptions either. Contrary to the belief of some, first, second, and third-party data are not created equal. While each are indeed different types of data (as evident from the aforementioned definitions), the difference doesn’t stop there. As you know, the many definitions of marketing data can work to both cloud and limit our understanding of…you got it, data – or what sort of information data really includes. In other words, marketing data can consist of the more tangible (names, emails, demographics), but it can also contain the impalpable (ongoing and actionable browsing behavior). Which is more valuable depends on your intent.