First-party data provides marketers with better targeting and enhanced customer experiences for more impactful campaigns.

Having the right tools can make all the difference to marketers trying to cut through the noise of advertising channels to reach new and existing customers.

First-party data is one such tool that’s been gaining attention for its ability to give businesses a competitive edge. Collecting and analyzing this data helps you get to know your customers better through their behaviour and preferences as they shop and scroll online.

When implemented successfully, a strategy to leverage first-party data can create a customer experience that builds loyalty and trust in your brand.

The value of first-party data

First-party data offers powerful precision targeting, campaign optimization and effective marketing to raise awareness and engage your audiences. It can allow you to perfectly fit your ads into the context of what someone is reading or gently remind previous website visitors about products they showed interest in.

There is a rising interest in first-party data resulting from Google phasing out advertising cookies that collected third-party data from browsers as they read, shopped and explored websites.

Nearly 90 per cent of marketers say gathering first-party data is more important than two years ago, while only 35 per cent strongly agree their organization is fully prepared for a cookieless future.

Collecting data from consumers comes with a need to reassure them about what happens after they provide their information to companies. Just over half of Canadians already feel they are losing control over their personal information, while 59 per cent say they’re asked for information more often than they’re comfortable with.

Embracing this shift means adopting policies and practices that will support the ethical collection and storage of data, with full transparency to consumers about how their data will be gathered and used.

Contextual targeting powered by first-party data

The insights from first-party data open possibilities for creating more personalized and effective advertising campaigns. For marketers trying to stay ahead, the opportunity to drive significant impact with the right audiences is essential, which makes contextual targeting a vital part of any marketing strategy going forward.

Contextual targeting is a strategy used in digital advertising where ads are served based on the context of the content a user is viewing. First-party data is used in contextual advertising to help businesses tailor their ads more effectively.

By looking at how users interact with their website or app, companies can understand what their audience is interested in. This allows advertisers to show ads that are more relevant and useful, creating a better overall advertising experience for consumers.

Here are four ways contextual targeting can improve your marketing:

1.     Delivering relevant ads to engage users

Instead of relying solely on the user’s past behaviour or demographic information, contextual targeting analyzes the web page’s content, such as keywords, topics and themes, to determine which ads are most relevant and likely to resonate with the user at that moment.

For example, contextual targeting might display ads related to resort packages or luggage deals if someone is reading an article about travel destinations. This approach aims to deliver ads that align closely with the user’s current interests or needs, enhancing the likelihood of engagement and conversion.

2.     Addressing data privacy concerns

Contextual advertising can help address data privacy concerns by reducing reliance on personally identifiable information for ad targeting. Instead of tracking individual users across the web and collecting sensitive personal data, contextual advertising focuses on the content being consumed at the moment.

By analyzing the content of a web page or app, advertisers can serve relevant ads without needing to know specific details about the user. This approach respects user privacy by avoiding the need to collect and store extensive user data, thereby reducing the risk of data breaches and privacy violations.

Additionally, contextual targeting allows for more transparent and ethical advertising practices. Users are more likely to understand why they are seeing certain ads based on the content they are engaging with, rather than feeling surveilled or targeted based on their personal information.

3.     Retargeting and remarketing

Contextual targeting aids retargeting and remarketing efforts by ensuring ads are displayed in relevant contexts, increasing the likelihood of capturing the attention of users who have previously interacted with the brand.

By aligning ads with the content being consumed, contextual targeting enhances the effectiveness of retargeting campaigns, encouraging users to re-engage and ultimately convert.

4.     Upholding brand standards

Brands must be mindful of where their advertisements appear to protect their long-term brand image. As the need for relevance and context grows, advertisers and publishers are increasingly considering ad placements in terms of brand suitability.

Contextual targeting plays a crucial role in interpreting content to assess its intent, relevance and context, thereby ensuring that ads align appropriately with the content they accompany.

Storing and organizing first-party data

It’s vital to prioritize appropriate storage and organization of first-party data to ensure the security, integrity and accuracy of data collected from your customers.

When collecting consumer data, prepare to manage:

  • Data security;
  • Data quality assurance;
  • Data storage or central repository;
  • Compliance with local and federal legislation;
  • Segmentation of data for later use;
  • Data backup procedures; and
  • Data recovery planning.

Once you begin collecting first-party data, you’ll need to ensure you have the policies, practices and tools in place to manage it properly.

Platforms for storing first-party data

Collecting data from customers is a serious responsibility. You’ll want to explore and select a system designed to gather, protect and access this data in reliable ways.

With built-in features that help you organize, access and analyze the data you’re collecting, the right platform will ensure you’re able to leverage the data you’re collecting in useful ways.

Some of the options available to store and manage first-party data include:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) systems: CRM systems help businesses store and manage customer data efficiently.
  • Customer data platforms (CDPs): CDPs provide unified customer profiles and data activation capabilities for personalized marketing efforts.
  • Cloud storage solutions: Cloud storage options ensure secure storage of large volumes of first-party data for businesses.
  • Data management platforms (DMPs): DMPs specialize in organizing and activating audience data for marketing purposes.
  • Marketing automation platforms: These platforms offer features for integrating and utilizing first-party data in marketing campaigns.

Businesses should consider their individual needs, budgets and existing technology before selecting the platform that will be most suitable.

Contextual targeting is becoming essential for marketers and business owners to ensure ads resonate with audiences in relevant and meaningful ways, ultimately maximizing engagement and driving successful campaign outcomes.

Are you prepared to make the shift to leveraging first-party data in your business? The right partner can help smooth the way. Book a consultation with a Postmedia expert to learn more.