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Marketers have more data about potential customers than ever before. Some is in their own database and some is in big advertising platforms like Google AdWords. Most marketers use a combination, and hence the need to distinguish the various sources.
First party data is the information collected by you about your prospects and customers. It is typically collected from your website or marketing automation system using cookies. It may also be supplemented by research done by your SDR team or via customer surveys.
Second party data is someone else’s first party data. When you gain access to a partner’s database to run a promotion, you are using second party data. A common example is sending invitations to a dinner you co-host with another company to their database of customers. Or maybe a vineyard wants to create a joint promotion with an artisan cheese company and advertise via retargeting from their online cheese shop. There are endless possibilities.
Third party data includes the proprietary data from Google or Bing (which you can leverage but not own), as well as data you can purchase from aggregators like eXelate, BlueKai (now Oracle) and others. If you choose to buy third party data you may also need to invest in a data management platform.
A final caution when using any kind of data. The privacy landscape is changing with regulations like CASL in Canada and GDPR for EU citizens. The ins and outs of data usage are too involved for this post, but make sure you understand how you are able to use your first, second and third party data.