August 5, 2022

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your First-Party Data

Don’t be alarmed, but we have to tell you something urgent: You might be sitting on a trove of valuable first-party data.

If subscribers are signing up for newsletters, you’re collecting first-party data. If readers are opting into data usage with their email addresses, that’s first-party data. If people are registering for virtual events, starting free trials, or downloading ebooks, chances are, you’re getting their first-party data.

The question is: What do you actually do with that data? And how can you use it to improve customer experiences and meet your bottom line?

We found out with a new survey featured in the AdMonsters Playbook: Why Publishers Need to Break Down Their First-Party Data Silos, sponsored by Jeeng. According to the report, only 10% of publishers say that they’re effective at leveraging first-party data to personalize experiences. And 67% say they could generate more revenue across channels if they had access to the full range of first-party data collected by their organizations.

Now more than ever, publishers need to start facing these challenges and taking control of their first-party data — especially if they want to meet changing consumer behaviors and prepare for a future without third-party cookies.

To help, here are five ways to make the most of your first-party data.

1. Create lookalike audiences

Publishers can use first-party data to identify their most valuable consumers and then target people who are similar to them. A news publisher, for example, might pinpoint a high-value audience of users who have been subscribed to a paid membership for at least three years and regularly engage with their email and website content.

The publisher can then use that data to build lookalike audiences of people who fit similar behaviors and demographics. The idea is that those users will be more likely to engage and convert since they’re similar to your already active audiences — helping you spend your budget more efficiently.

2. Use tools to break down data silos

One of publishers’ biggest data challenges is breaking down silos between teams. As AdMonsters found, cross-departmental collaboration is rare among publishers: Only 13% of respondents said they always work with other departments to create cross-channel user experiences and 52% said each channel has its own goals and KPIs, making it tough to collaborate. 

Evidently, publishers need help sharing, accessing, and formatting data for use throughout their organizations — otherwise, they risk losing valuable opportunities to engage customers and drive revenue. That’s why they need AI-based tools to merge first-party data from each touchpoint — like website ads, email newsletters, and push notifications — and create comprehensive user experiences across channels.

Say a sports publisher sees that a certain group of readers engages with articles about baseball games. The website team can alert the email team, who can then reach those readers with newsletter subscription offerings that cover baseball news.

First, publishers identified the channels they’re using to engage audiences with content and

3. Ask for small bits of data over time

First-party data sets aren’t built in a day. They’re ever-evolving entities that grow and change as your audiences do. So don’t forget to keep asking for first-party data and learning about your readers. As long as you offer something of value and relevance — like a personalized email newsletter, exclusive video, or invite to an event — consumers will be willing to share their information.

As we found in our 2022 Digital Publisher Survey Report, consumers are more willing to share their details in exchange for personalized experiences that match their behaviors and interests. So you might start by gathering a ubiquitous piece of first-party data like the email address, and as your audience relationships progress, you can ask for more information like demographics, interests, and household status.

4. Build internal user graphs

Keep your customer data organized by creating detailed graphs for each individual user. These user graphs might include data like:

  • Email addresses
  • IP addresses
  • SMS numbers
  • Mobile advertising IDs

With these user graphs at your fingertips, you can better track customer journeys and gain a holistic view of your readers — from first-time website visits and email signups to ad engagements and retargeting campaigns.

5. Launch native ad experiences

Monetize your content by selling native ad space to relevant brands. And use your first-party data to build target audience segments for them to reach. Since native ads blend into their surrounding content, they’re more effective at driving engagement and revenue than traditional ads.

Adweek, for example, featured a sponsored article from Vericast in its daily email newsletter. The paid article fits right in with the organic ones, but it includes the disclaimer that it’s pulled from BrandShare, Adweek’s branded content program.

Native Email Ad example

Ready to learn more about how to manage your first-party data and improve customer experiences?

Download the AdMonsters Playbook: Why Publishers Need to Break Down Their First-Party Data Silos.