Raw, First-Party and Real-Time: The ABC’s of Data-Driven Marketing

By Olga Dufvenberg

2019-07-16

Today, data-driven marketing has become the new norm. But in this rather new digital environment, there is a swarm of different data types buzzing around. And yes, this can be quite confusing! That’s why we’ve gathered eight of them here - so you can decipher what data is useful where.

Why Do You Need to Decode Your Data?

In our digital era, to say the least, you’re not the only one seeking for people’s attention. So if you want to break through the noise and reach your target audience; data-driven marketing is the only option. 

With a data-driven approach, where you formulate strategies based on analysis of data, you’ll be able to turn your collected customer data into insights that predict your customers’ desires, needs, and future behaviour.

But first things first…


Collecting data from a multitude of different channels and devices requires a platform for data unification and an omnichannel marketing strategy. This enables you to formulate a clear path on how to synchronise all marketing activities over all touchpoints. The result? An integrated, seamless, and personalised customer experience.

However, the journey towards a fully integrated omnichannel experience can be long… So the first, crucial step is for you to understand the different types of data. Let’s begin!

Big Data: The Large and Complex Pool of Data

As a result of the digital world we live in, big data has become the buzzword extraordinaire in the marketing sphere. My guess is that this isn’t the first time you come across the phrase, but are you all clear with what it really means?

Simply put, big data refers to large and complex data sets which particularly come from new data sources, and is characterised by its high volume, high velocity and/or high variety.

For handling such massive data volumes, you first and foremost need a manageable platform, such as a Customer Data Platform, followed by an omnichannel data-driven marketing strategy.

This way, you’ll be able to turn the relevant data into actions and create detailed customer profiles, which, in turn, is key to personalised marketing.

Customer Data: Your Ticket to a Single Customer View

Just as it sounds, customer data is the collected data from a business’ customer base. This includes everything from personal information to behavioural and demographic data; which are necessary to build a single customer view.

More specifically, customer data can be divided into four categories:

  • Identity data: Unique individual information; name, gender, date of birth
  • Quantitative (hard) data: Completed activities; online activities, transactional information
  • Descriptive data: Additional profile information; lifestyle och career details
  • Qualitative (soft) data: Specific descriptions; collected via forms

First-Party Data: The Gold Mine of Customer Insights

First-party data is audience or customer information that is collected on your owned media channels. As this type of data is submitted (and consented) by the user, the accuracy is high.

It’s a true gold mine of mainly cookie-based data and CRM data, such as past purchases and page interests, which is perfect for targeting customers with personalised product recommendations, customised content or social media advertising.

First-party data isn’t isolated as a separate entity. Rather, you can use earned or paid channels to boost activity on your owned channels. With forms or cookie banners in place, the marriage of channels boosts your collection of first-party data.

Social media is a great example of a channel that works as a valuable vehicle, as it drives people to your website. This enables you to track and analyse first-party data - not just data from Facebook or other social media channels.

Second-Party Data: Reach Beyond your Customer Base

Next up is second-party data, which is best described as someone else’s first-party data. But how can you turn someone else’s data into your own? By purchasing the second-party data from another company.

Usually, second-party data relies on a mutually-beneficial exchange of data that compliments the business. For example, a hotel chain might partners up with an airline. 

Second-party data is, therefore, a great complement to first-party data, for reaching audiences beyond the ones you have direct access to.

Third-Party Data: To Broaden Your Audience Even Further

The last – but not least –  type of party data is the third. This data is purchased from outside sources, also called data aggregators. These sources don’t collect the data themselves. Instead, they buy first-party data from publishers and other data owners - meaning, you as a buyer won’t have an insight into the original source.

So, third-party data is mainly online information - packaged by aggregators - ready to be purchased. For example, this can be data collected from social media networks, which is then categorised into segments based on user behaviour, i.e. interests. 

Even though third-party data is available for your competitors too, the heavy volume of user data can be very beneficial for your business. Such information, stored into one place, makes a great starting point for demographic, behavioural, and contextual targeting, and for broadening your audience.

Raw Data: A Maze of Unorganised Data

Just as with raw vegetables, raw data hasn’t been cooked or processed. The data is in its very first stage and requires selection, organisation, and analysis to turn it into actionable information. 

So, think about it as a long-cooking stew, preferably a bourguignon, where every single ingredient needs preparation to make up the perfect Sunday supper.

Real-time Data - It’s the Present That Counts

In a world where social media is ever-present and there’s a constant demand for minute-to-minute updates, real-time data is your golden ticket to the destination that is successful marketing. 

Such data refers to information that is collected in real-time, which is then processed and spread immediately. This means that it’s possible for businesses to offer instant advertising that responds to what individual users are doing in that specific moment.

Sensitive Data Is Not For Sharing

Ethnic origin, political opinions, and health-related data. All data is not to be shared for commercial purposes. These three forms of data are all defined as sensitive data, which means that it can only be processed if it follows the conditions stated by the European Commission.

For a medical company, this can be quite tricky and can implicate some limitations when it comes to advertising on Google or paid advertising. Imagine a visitor browsing your website, looking at certain medical supplies or pharmaceuticals. It might seem like a missed marketing opportunity, but if you think about it: would you like your medical history displayed on your feed? Probably not.

Integrated Data is Every Data-Driven Marketer’s Dream

As you can see, our digital world is packed with data in all different shapes and sizes. And if you seize the opportunity, you have a huge gold mine right in front of you. By understanding the people behind the clicks, you can create the communication they want and expect.

With a Customer Data Platform - such as the platform APSIS One that combines the power of a CDP with efficient digital marketing tools - that unifies all your data from different touchpoints, you’ll be able to gain real-time insights to optimise the timing, efficiency, and targeting of your messages. All and all; to create a unified customer experience.

Want to decode your data and turn it into actions? Check out APSIS One!