1st Party, 2nd Party & 3rd Party Data Differences

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1st party data, 2nd party data, and 3rd party data are common classifications used to target or identify audiences. We’re often asked about the differences between these, specifically with 1st party data vs 3rd party data. Here’s a quick overview along with a few basic examples of each.

1st Party Data

1st-party data is data that you own or directly collect from your audience.

Simple examples of 1st-party data that you may already have include newsletter subscription lists, contact form submissions, product registrations, CRM records, and other international databases that store information about your customers.

Ad Age describes it well in a bit more detail:

“First-party data is information collected directly and stored by website publishers, retailers and other types of companies about their site visitors or customers.” –Ad Age

With 1st party data there’s no intermediary between the source and audience. 1st-party can often include customer names, addresses, phone numbers, analytics data, product purchases and product usage. This data is often collected and stored in CRM systems, email newsletters, and other customer subscriptions and memberships.

1st-party Networks

2nd Party Data

2nd-party data is data that users didn’t give you directly, instead you’re obtaining from a direct relationship with a 1st-party data owner.

Next is line is secondary-party data. 2nd-party data is data consolidated and aggregated from external sources. 2nd-party data is also provided by multiple sources. Data management platform’s (DMP’s) use second-party data to generate broad segments that pull in information from many different anonymous data sources. Working with 2nd-party data often involves working with a trusted and relevant external source of first-party data that is not your own.

3rd Party Data

3rd-party data is data about users that you’ve obtaining from unknown or partially defined external sources.

3rd-party data is similar to 2nd-party data: it is consolidated and aggregated from multiple external sources and is provided by numerous providers. The primary difference is that third-party data is often highly scalable, but lacks transparency. Without a full understanding of where the data was sourced from, it’s harder to determine the accuracy. For this reason third-party data sources may often have a higher margin for error.