How to activate first party data for advertising

With the deprecation of third-party cookies, first-party data has become even more crucial for advertising. Cookies were once used to track users across the web and gather data about their interests and behaviors. However, as privacy concerns have grown, many browsers have begun blocking third-party cookies. This makes it more difficult for advertisers to track users and reach them with relevant ads.

As a result, advertisers are increasingly turning to first-party data to power their digital marketing efforts. This type of data, including data you already have, data you want to collect, and different types of customer data, can be used to create targeted audience segments and personalize ad experiences.

What are first-party data in digital marketing

Unlike third-party data, the type of data collected from sources outside of an advertiser's control, first-party data is information collected directly from customers or website visitors. This makes it more accurate, reliable, and valuable for creating targeted advertising campaigns.

These can include different types of data, such as:

  • Demographic information
  • Contact information
  • Purchase history
  • Website browsing behavior
  • Email engagement
  • Social media interaction
  • Loyalty program information

How to activate first party data for advertising

Sources of first-party data include:

Data from Your Website: Leverage website analytics tools like Google Analytics to capture insights into visitor behavior, interests, and demographics.

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems: CRM systems can store and manage customer data, such as purchase history and contact information.

Loyalty programs: Loyalty programs can collect data about customers' shopping habits and preferences.

Surveys: Surveys can be used to collect data about customers' opinions, preferences, and demographics.

Email marketing: Email marketing interactions provide valuable insights into customer engagement, such as open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates. This data can be used to refine email content and targeting strategies.

Social media interactions: Social media platforms offer opportunities to collect data about customer preferences, interests, and brand sentiment.

Once collected, first-party data for marketing should be stored securely to protect customer privacy. It should also undergo a thorough cleaning and validation process to ensure accuracy and reliability. Segmentation into different groups based on shared characteristics is essential to bring data together and enable the creation of highly targeted and effective advertising campaigns.

This approach respects customer preferences and encourages them to willingly share their data, knowing that their information is being used in a relevant and responsible manner.

Why should you activate first-party data for advertising

Using first-party data for advertising offers distinct advantages over solely relying on audiences available and owned by platforms like Google Ads or LinkedIn Campaign Manager. Activating your own first-party data for advertising provides several compelling reasons to enhance your marketing efforts, including:

Data Ownership and Control: The use of first-party data, consisting of data points you own and collect directly from your customers, ensures data quality, accuracy, and compliance with your privacy policies. In contrast, relying solely on Google's segments means entrusting your advertising strategy to third-party data, limiting your customization options.

Customization and Specificity: First-party data empowers you to create highly customized and specific audience segments aligned with your marketing goals. You can use this data to define unique criteria that Google's predefined audiences may not capture adequately.

Deeper Customer Insights: Leverage first-party data for unparalleled insights into customer preferences and behaviors, equipping you with a competitive edge in crafting personalized ad experiences that resonate with your audience.

Privacy and Compliance: First-party data inherently adheres to your privacy policies and regulatory compliance standards, reducing privacy risks associated with third-party data sources.

Reduced Dependence on Third-Party Data: Building and utilizing your first-party data strategy increases resilience by reducing reliance on external sources incl. second-party data, ensuring that you maintain control over your valuable data assets.

Long-Term Customer Relationships: First-party data is data that facilitates the creation of personalized ad experiences that nurture customer loyalty and drive increased customer lifetime value (CLV).

Better Campaign Measurement and Optimization: Use the data as a solid foundation for data-driven decisions, enabling continuous campaign optimization and improved ROI by tracking responses within your customized audience segments.

How to activate first party data for advertising

3 ways to activate first party data for digital advertising

There are several ways to use the data for advertising, and they can be grouped into three primary methods:

Manual Selections using SQL

One of the most direct and customizable approaches to activating first-party data is by creating audience selections based on Structured Query Language (SQL). This method empowers marketers with a deep level of control over their data. By harnessing SQL, for example be on top of BigQuery, you can collect the data you need, segment your audience based on specific criteria, and tailor your ad campaigns accordingly. 

While this method can work well, it relies on the expertise of a technical team, including an analyst and a data engineer. Creating interfaces with other systems can be complex, and most marketers may need assistance from these experts to navigate this process effectively.

Audience Management Solutions

To streamline the process of activating first-party data for advertising, you can consider employing best-of-breed audience management solutions. These platforms are designed to make customer/user segments easy and therefore accessible for users without technical skills. They provide a centralized hub where you can collect the data, organize it, and integrate with external systems that they have created an interface for. 

Best-of-breed solutions often offer advanced analytics and segmentation capabilities, making it easier to unlock the full potential of your first-party data strategy while maintaining compliance with privacy regulations.

The audience management solutions are well-suited for businesses seeking efficiency and scalability. However, implementing such solutions involves initial setup costs and integration efforts. Most of these platforms focus on audience management only and might have limitations in terms of customization, which can be a drawback for organizations with highly specific targeting requirements. Additionally, they must also address the challenge of automating audience updates to remain effective over time.

Looker Custom Actions

Looker's distinctive advantage lies in its dual functionality as both a marketing activation and Business Intelligence (BI) tool. It empowers users to delve deep into data using interactive dashboards, leveraging these insights to craft and distribute audiences. Beyond audience creation, Looker facilitates audience management and provides access to ecosystem-specific results. 

For organizations prioritizing data-driven decision-making, Looker is indispensable. It seamlessly bridges the gap between data analysis and marketing activation, making it an ideal choice for agile and responsive advertising campaigns.

Looker offers various features and capabilities, including actions that allow users to interact with data and perform specific tasks. 

Standard Actions are built-in and ready-to-use features that simplify common tasks like exporting data and sharing dashboards. They offer convenience but have limited customization.

Custom Actions are user-defined and highly customizable. They allow for complex workflows, automation, and integration with external systems. Custom Actions are tailored to specific business needs, offering flexibility but often requiring development skills to create.

Looker Custom Actions add another layer of versatility, allowing marketers to take swift, data-informed actions within the Looker platform. This agile approach optimizes campaigns with real-time data while upholding strict data privacy and regulatory compliance standards.

How to activate first party data for advertising

The marketing loop ongoing campaign


Getting started with Looker Custom Actions

At Crystalloids we are committed to simplifying audience management. We're actively developing a standardized Audience Management solution, eliminating the need for clients to have a developer on their side. You won't need to delve into the intricacies of development – we've already done the work for you.

Crystalloids can assist you in extracting campaign performance data for measurement, which can also be seamlessly integrated into Looker for in-depth analysis. Our goal is to bridge the gap in audience management, making it accessible and efficient. Whether it's Google Ads or other platforms, we streamline the process, providing a single platform for managing and analyzing your audiences without the hassle of switching between multiple tools.


In today's evolving digital landscape, harnessing the data you collect directly from your audience is paramount. First-party data is your foundation for creating targeted, personalized ad experiences that resonate within your marketing strategies. It offers ownership, customization, deeper insights, privacy, and reduced reliance on external sources. Effective data management is key to long-term success.

Whether through manual SQL selections, audience management solutions, or Looker Custom Actions, the path to advertising excellence lies in using data wisely. It guides your campaigns, optimizes performance, and builds enduring customer relationships. In a world where first-party data can help you navigate complexities, managing data effectively is your compass to success.


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