Marketing Strategies

First-party data: your biggest priority in a world of walled-gardens

With the end of third-party cookies looming, advertisers need to reprioritize their data structure and strategies. In the next year or two first-party data will be king. Third-party cookies used to help advertisers navigate the many walled gardens in the online world, but now new solutions and new techniques are gaining ground.

And it’s a good thing, too. First-party data environments are more accurate for audience targeting than third-party cookies, which often lead to inflated conversion numbers and wasted marketing spend from bots or bad inventory. Relying on first-party data will also give consumers and users more privacy and control–which then means that the people seeing your ads are ones who actually want to see them. Your audiences will be higher quality in general.

Your audience is a little of everything

Your audience is never one thing. When they log into their work email they are professionals who care about their own competency and the future of their company or business. When they log into their personal email they’re arguing back and forth with their mother about holiday travel plans. In some walled gardens, like Amazon, they’re consumers who have two kids and a dog. In other walled gardens, like in a dating app, they’re single and ready to party. Their home office is their work office. Everyone wants personalized, relevant marketing to cut through the noise and help them do what they need to do in order to meet their goals.

Without third-party cookies, you may think it’s impossible to make leaps between what a customer does on Amazon with what they do on Facebook. After all, identity (that you can develop with first-party data) plus context (what the customer does in a walled garden) equals intention. First-party data is data you bring to the table, and you can have help with it. It can be wider and more nuanced than ever before, while still remaining compliant.

Identity resolution and personas

With a combination of customer data and web behavior data that you can gather yourself, you can start the identity resolution process. Then, appending third-party data that is based on offline sources means you can be sure your audience targeting strategies are based on clean, correct, privacy conscious data.

Next, ask how your data provider links different data attributes/activity to the same consumer? Not all third-party data providers will have their own digital ID resolution technology, but they should at least be able to help you understand which partner(s) they are working with for digital audience fulfillment, today and in the future. If you’re a digital advertiser, it’s a good time to work with your agency to reach out to key, offline based third-party data providers directly to help ensure data can inform your 2023 and 2024 campaigns. Test and refine your strategies for narrowing your audience based on demographics, firmographics and other key identifiers.

These walled gardens can accept your first-party data PII directly so that the people you’re targeting elsewhere can be targeted inside the garden, as well. Make sure your data is thorough and sees all the different personas each customer may have.

Your audience is here, there and everywhere

We’ve been talking about omnichannel strategies for years, but that will become even more important–and reachable, with new, diverse channels. Your audience is on their phone, watching CTV, reading a magazine (in print and online), listening to a podcast and checking their email on a desktop.

Identifying email addresses will help you connect a user in your domain across devices, and that can help you connect with them across the web, too. You may need extra help, which is where new technology comes in.

New technology to bridge the gap

New tech options like The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0, can:

  • Simplify identity resolution at the household and individual level.
  • Manage frequency and suppress audiences across channels and devices.
  • Target and measure campaigns more holistically.
  • Use a privacy-conscious form of CRM data in media-buying platforms.
  • Support identity use cases on Connected TV and Mobile apps where cookies don’t exist.
  • Offer opt-out, with the goal of improving consumer privacy controls.

These frameworks utilize your lists–your first-party data–and connect with relevant audience members while keeping those identities anonymous. You get to reach out to the right people, and your audience feels more secure.

Check out other frameworks like Authenticated Traffic Solutions (ATS), Lotame Panorama ID, ID5 Universal ID or Neustar Fabrick. Find and invest in the one that’s right for your business and marketing strategies. Invest in these technologies now, before third-party cookies really go away and there’s a rush for alternative options.


If you’ve been on streaming TV recently, you may have noticed new programs have a “choose your ad experience” message before playing an ad. Not only does this give audience members a chance to have fewer commercials–it gives advertisers valuable information about which products people are interested in, which one’s they’re likely to engage with more closely, and even how to link content and ads together.

CTV has never relied on cookies, so it’s not afraid of going without. Users authenticate themselves through TV rundles (aka, recurring revenue bundles) and therefore CTV can offer strong audience targeting, performance metrics in real-time, and an enhanced ability to interact with the viewer beyond the ad. In January 2021, eMarketer reported that U.S. programmatic CTV video ad spend rose by 36.3%, reaching $4.36 billion. CTV is the new cable TV, with added capabilities like enhanced message targeting and retargeting.

Again, your first-party data is key to the audience who will see your ads. Strong identity resolution is a must so that CTV can give you the best results.

Don’t forget the open internet

It may seem as though everyone is holing up in walled gardens–and the online landscape is certainly heading that way. But people still spend a lot of time on the open internet, and ad spend doesn’t always follow them there. Yes, it’s important to invest in Facebook or Youtube ads, but you can get mileage out of less well known sites or spaces. This is all predicated on knowing your customer, and going to where they are.

Google is developing alternative interest-based audience clusters to address advertiser demand; there is currently a “race” among alternative adtech providers who have developed alternative ID solutions and are pushing for adoption by publishers and demand-side buying platforms to address both first and yes, third-party (aka, anonymous) media environments.

Having a third-party data provider whose data is not currently informed by third-party cookies and who has access to hashed emails*, for example, will ensure your audience targeting strategy is positioned well for the upcoming changes.

*More about hashed emails: A hashed email address refers to the encryption technique used to transform an email address into a distinct code consisting of 32, 40, or 64 characters. This code remains constant regardless of the various platforms, browsers, or devices the email address is utilized on.

Expand your first-party data

Collect data from your audience on your own platform, but of course that won’t get you everything you need. Offline data like contact info, purchase histories, loyalty card data, utility connects, real estate data, voter registration, credit card transactions, and demographics will help you “future-proof” your audience targeting strategies.

Talk with our team today to see how we can help you transition away from third-party cookies, and into the future of advertising.


Natasia Langfelder
Content Marketing Manager

As Content Marketing Manager, Natasia is responsible for helping strategize, produce and execute Data Axle's content. With a passion for writing and an enthusiasm for data management and technology, Natasia creates content that is designed to deliver nuggets of wisdom to help brands and individuals elevate their data governance policies. A native New Yorker, when Natasia is not at work she can be found enjoying New York’s food scene, at one of NYC’s many museums, or at one of the city’s many parks with her two teacup yorkies.