First-Party Data in Advertising — Benefits, Challenges and Publisher Success

5 min readNov 24, 2021

With the end in sight for third-party cookies, first-party data has become the solution on every publisher’s mind. And it’s simple: If you want to be a successful company in the future, you need to know how to use your own first-party data. This first-hand data can provide insights about your customers and will help you understand who they are and what they want.

With this kind of data, the customer is the one who provides information about themselves. In this way, they determine how relevant your content is to them. It also gives you a better understanding of how to create ads and other material that people will actually want to engage with. First-party data lets advertisers do their job more effectively by providing them with insights into what people really want from their brands and products. It’s a great way to get closer to your customers and provide them with a personalized experience.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the importance of first-party data, the benefits and challenges with it, and we’ll look at the publishers successfully building their first-party data from subscription models.

What is first-party data?

First-party data is information collected by a company directly from their site visitors, social media followers or customers and this data is owned by the company that collected it. The data is gathered from a pixel that is added to a company’s website or social media pages that collects the first-party data about the company’s audience. The data includes information about behaviours and actions taken by the visitor or customer and the information is typically stored in the company’s CRM system.

Why does first-party data matter now?

First-party data has become increasingly more important since the announcement made by Google stating that third-party cookies will come to an end in 2022–2023. With data being a key asset in today’s marketing world, advertisers have quickly realized that first-party data will now be the driving force behind gathering consumer data and the only option to target customers with retargeting ads. A publisher who already has built their audience is in a strong position at this time compared to others who are now scrambling to build a first-party audience before the end of cookies later next year.

What are the benefits of first-party data?

Publishers have easy access to consumers. From forms and behavioural data collected from social media platforms and the publisher website, the publisher has the analytics to build a profile of their audience, from information that was given to the publisher voluntarily by the customer. Therefore, they can target them with content and ads that match their persona by grouping different segments together based on their characteristics.

A consumer is more trusting of brands over third-party sites. They are happier to share their details to get a tailored experience from a publisher. When a publisher delivers targeted content and advertising, it builds trust and engagement with the audience.

Modern marketers are always eager to use data that can target their audience precisely. Using clean first-party data will lead to advertisers having very specific targeting over what they previously had with third-party data. Programmatic advertising with first-party data will be much more effective as publishers can target refined segments within their audiences.

Accuracy of data is a key benefit for publishers when it comes to using first-party data. Brands can seek to improve their website messaging and improve the measurement of their campaigns. This leads to more optimized campaigns, which in turn helps a publisher optimize their website and site performance, helping them to improve their overall ROI by measuring monthly and annual revenue, monthly churn, customer acquisition costs and lifetime value of a customer.

What are the challenges to first-party data?

Publishers new to advertising will need to choose a platform that will be able to cater for all their first-party data and manage it in a responsible manner. The platform will need to provide the publisher with strong analytics in order to build customer profiles in terms of demographics and behaviours.

The publisher needs to provide a good customer experience to those people who are willing to hand over their details in forms of both people who register to receive newsletters and subscription signups. They can offer the customer a personalized experience by writing content that provides value for them and by recommending relevant articles to them that fit their interests and not showing articles they have already read.

With more and more concern around privacy and how data is managed. Being clear with customers as to how their data is stored is something that publishers need to be mindful of.

It is going to take advertisers a bit of time to get used to a first-party data world and to fully understand the benefits which can be created from using targeted first-party data over larger audiences in the old third-party world. Publishers will need to address the fears of advertisers and help to overcome these by proving a first party data advertising world can achieve the same if not better campaign results in the long run.

What publishers are enjoying first-party data subscription success?

The New York Times is estimating that they will end 2021 with about 8.5 million subscribers for both their print and digital offerings. The potential size of the market for the New York Times is estimated to be approximately 100 million people, which leaves a lot of room for growth.

YouTube paid music streaming service now has 50 million subscribers. After launching in 2018 it was a slow start for the paid music streaming side of YouTube’s business, competing with the likes of Amazon Music and Spotify. It was noted that YouTube paid music rights of $4 billion, 30% of which came from their subscription business from June 2020 — June 2021, while the rest was from advertising revenue. Demonstrating the success of their streaming music service.

Disney+ hit 103.6 million subscribers in their first 17 months. Netflix on the other hand has built a subscriber audience of 207 million subscribers in over a decade of growing their streaming service. Disney+ have experienced success very quickly compared to their competitor Netflix.

These are just three examples of publishers who are proving very successful in building their first-party data and growing their audiences in a short time frame. This should give publishers the motivation they need to embrace the new first-party data world instead of being concerned about how they will operate in a cookieless world. It is clear that once publishers get on board with the new first-party data era the benefits can help them increase their revenue significantly.

Originally published at on November 24, 2021.




Publisher’s all-in-one business software solution for efficient ad sales management built on Salesforce with customers in 25+ countries.