What Is First-Party Data Collection?

First-party data is customer data collected with consent and owned directly by your company (the data controller). It is a valuable source of customer insight in the age of data privacy, as regulations and security measures now make other types of data less secure, accurate, and reliable.

Examples of First-Party Data

First-party data is any information collected directly from your customer (online or offline) with their consent. For example:

  • Account creation

  • Newsletter signups

  • Signups for a free trial or download

  • Surveys and feedback

  • Direct chats (chatbots, customer service, social media messages)

  • Online behavioral data (from customers who opt-in to sharing their data when using your app or visiting your site)

  • CRM data (collected with consent during signups or customer service interactions)

  • Loyalty/retention (purchase history, presales/upgrade queries)

Why Is First-Party Data Important?

First-party data is important because, compared to other data types, it is:

  • More secure (more transparent and compliant with privacy protection regulations—unlike third-party data, which is increasingly blocked by ad blockers, first-party data is not blocked)

  • More accurate (providing a more reliable, detailed view of customer preferences and behavior)

  • More cost-effective (can be collected for free)

  • More profitable (enabling companies to boost conversion with an enhanced customer experience and successful targeting efforts)

First-party data is a privacy-oriented, ethical data collection method that enables marketers to gain a clear view of their customers, control costs more effectively, and significantly impact their campaigns. For these reasons, many digital marketers consider first-party data to be the most valuable customer data at their disposal.

Why Is First-Party Data More Accurate than Third-Party Data?

In the past, digital marketers could rely on third-party cookies to collect data from websites, apps, and other channels. This data enabled marketers to target audiences and measure engagement.

Today, many popular browsers have introduced privacy measures that limit or prevent cookies and prevent customer data from being forwarded to Google Analytics. This includes measures like Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP 2.3) in Safari and Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) in Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Brave, and other browsers. Ad blockers have also become a standard feature of many web browsers.

Nearly 40% of users now use a browser with built-in tracking prevention and ad blockers. As a result, marketers get an incomplete picture of their marketing data in Google Analytics and Meta. That means you have no accurate way of analyzing the performance of your online content and campaigns or calculating Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS).

In addition, data privacy regulations such as the GDPR, CCPA, Denmark Cookie Order, and Belgium Cookie Guidance make capturing reliable data using third-party cookies increasingly challenging.

In response to this trend, many companies focus on collecting first-party data. This data is more secure, more reliable, and far more profitable.

A study by Google and Boston Consulting Group found that companies using first-party data in key marketing campaigns increased revenues by up to 290% while reducing their advertising spend by up to 150%, compared to companies that did not use first-party data.

How to Use First-Party Data

To get the greatest benefit, successful marketers use first-party data for various activities, such as:

  • Personalizing the customer experience and displaying relevant ads and content

  • Retargeting through ads and email messages

  • Identifying new audiences

  • Segmenting the customer base more accurately

  • Enhancing brand equity and creating a better fit with customers

  • Creating rich data sets that can also be monetized

How to Collect First-Party Data?

Common first-party data collection methods include:

  • Permission marketing: This involves simply asking customers for information about themselves in return for a benefit such as a discount, free trial, free download, webinar, or informative newsletter. You can also include data collected via offline interactions.

  • Software integrations: With the help of the right software tools, marketers can track and identify users and collect their data in a privacy-friendly way. This enriches your data, giving you a fuller view of your customers and what they want.

You can track users through Google Analytics (third-party data collection) or integrate a first-party tracking tool like Webtracking into your website. You get the most out of your data by combining both first- and third-party data collection.

Using CM.com’s Webtracking offers many first-party data collection advantages because it:

  • Extends cookie duration in Safari from 1 day to 180+ days with the user’s consent;

  • Forwards the data anonymously on the server-side, which increases the visibility of customers using ad blockers and privacy-focused browsers;

  • Works alongside your Google Analytics or Tag Manager implementation;

  • Enriches the platforms you already use without ever storing any data;

  • Complies fully with GDPR, CCPA, the Denmark Cookie Order, and the Belgium Cookie Guidance.

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