First-Party Data Marketing Is a Risky Race

First-Party Data Marketing Is a Risky Race
Photo by Abed Ismail / Unsplash

Personal consumer first-party data has recently become the most wanted currency in Marketing to exchange present and future value between consumers and brands. The significant promise of data is to upgrade our messages to more relevant ones. I buy that! And on top of that, I am a firm believer in the power of data to save us from our marketing demons: the skip button, the ad-blocker plugin, or the X – close ad-button. Let’s dissect a bit the two data perspectives: consumer and brand.

It is not crystal clear what we are getting in return for our first-party data on the consumer side. Yet, we happily offer our acceptance to get tracked as quickly as we close that popup window every time a GDPR consent clause shows up. We also share our emails – probably mostly our secondary spam ones, decide to log in with our Facebook profiles, and sometimes even offer our phone numbers to get to the next page of the form. Generally, we accept this cost to facilitate a transaction or get immediate access to information. We rarely think long-term; it’s a pure instant gratification decision. And we know what happens to kids to can’t resist the temptation to eat that candy – they don’t get the second one the others have waited for.

On the brand side, we are clear about what we want – DATA. Of course, as much data as possible is within the regulations and ethical standards. We need data; we talk data, and we collect data. Today, marketers are in a collection mode, without a precise strategy on what data can do to solve our immediate strategic opportunity. We don’t know if we want to personalize your ad with your favorite football club’s logo. We don’t know if we’ll email you our product launch details with store locations personalized to you. We don’t know if we want to adjust our media plans to reach you during the daypart you are most responsive. One thing is sure, we need that first-party data, and we want it all. Now!

What happens when you, the brand, and your competitor simultaneously gain access to your customer buyer data? Is data a competitive advantage or simply the leveling of the playing field? Suppose I get two personalized emails from Kayak and Skyscanner this week. The winning email that makes me click might be the one with a better design or a more complicated unsubscribe procedure. At that moment, data about the consumer won’t add too much incremental value.

That’s why I think first-party data acquisition is a race between you and your competitors. You’ll only have an advantage when you are in front. When they catch you up, it’s a level playing field.