The Happy (Re)Marriage of First- and Third-Party Data

The happy (re)marriage of first- and third-party data

There’s a renaissance in marketing, Kevin Dean said during a panel discussion at DMA’s &THEN 2016 conference. That renaissance, says Dean, president and GM of targeting for Experian Marketing Services, is the resurgence in marketers’ interest in third-party data.

Addressability, he said, is one reason for this renaissance—as well as for an increasing focus on data-driven marketing. “We’ll see considerable growth over the next three years in data-driven marketing,” he said, noting that the much of the increase will be among companies that weren’t previously data driven.

I had a chance to speak with Dean before his session regarding the changing data landscape.

What’s the current state of data?

Everything used to be about lists. That’s a third-party data conversation. Back then many companies used first-party data to determine how best to use third-party data; for example, to find prospects like their best customers.

Then, for a time, third-party data fell out of favor with marketers. All marketers could talk about was first-party data. But data analysts know that using a blend of first- and third-party data is what delivers the best results. So, there’s a resurgence in the use of third-party data.

Think of it this way: You can make a phenomenal pencil sketch with first-party data; it’s third-party data that fills in the depth and color. It helps enhance segmentation, which is so important. First- and third-party data together is what will provide that extra level of lift.

What’s the role of linkage in this enviroment where blending first- and third-party data is so important?

Linkage is everything. Third-party data is only as good as your ability to link that information to other IDs. How do marketers match data sets? That’s linkage.

Linkage was a process and a technology; now it’s like a data asset and data source in its own right. There’s a cottage industry growing all around linking data sets, allowing marketers to relate data pieces to each other.

How are these changes impacting attribution?

Attribution is getting better. Back in the day attribution often was based on a key code on a mail piece. Marketers who used direct mail had great success in knowing what mail piece drove a purchase.

It’s such a benefit to marketers that there are all these new channels, but having so many makes it harder to know which are most relatable to action. It’s an analytics conversation. But it’s not one size fits all; each company needs its own approach.

What’s on marketers’ minds right now? What’s keeping them up and night and what are they most excited about?

One thing that’s keeping marketers up at night is silos. Marketers on each team—for example, email, display—are comped differently and incented differently and their operations and data are in silos. These marketers know that collaboration would deliver better results, but they’re not incented to collaborate and overcome silos.

Marketers are jazzed about the performance ROI they’re seeing from putting first- and third-party data together today. They’re seeing measurable performance improvements by linking data.

There’s so much pressure on marketers today, and so many things they “could” do. What’s one thing from that big list of “coulds” that marketers should do, and one “could” that they should just pass on?

Marketers can get themselves sideways with “I have to do X,” and get caught up in the technology they need to support X. Instead, they should ask, “What am I solving for?” They need to work backward from the consumer. This starts with getting insights on their consumers to paint that customer picture. That’s when marketers start to have a framework on how they should be engaging consumers—and then they can look at the technology.

We hear a lot of “I’ve gotta have it now” [in terms of technology]. Marketers need to stop and first decide what they want customers to do. When marketers do that, they often see that they don’t need all the [sophisticated tools] they think they do.

My advice: Don’t jump in with something you don’t need. Let your consumers and what you’re trying to accomplish dictate your plan.

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Also from DMA’s &THEN 2016 conference:

7 Decision Drivers Marketers Can Tap to Influence Customer Behavior
Data: The New Marketing Currency in a Time of Change
Why CMOs Are, In Fact, Chief Mystery Officers
Marketers Live in an “and” World
POPSUGAR Uses Data to Sweeten Its Marketing Performance
5 Marketing “Shoulds” in an Overwhelming List of “Coulds”