Many organizations are realizing the importance of collecting and acting on customer data - but not all data is created equal. 

In Hum’s latest whitepaper - Turning Disparate Data into Solid Gold - we’re breaking down exactly what scholarly publishers need to know about data and customer data platforms. 

Harnessing the power of your data starts by understanding the difference between different data types, as well as the tactics and tools required to turn this data into valuable insights about your content and your readers or members. 

When you talk about a data’s “party,” you’re indicating the source of your data. There are four primary sources: Zero-, first-, second-, and third-party data. 

Hum Zero First Second Third Party Data for Publishers

Zero-Party Data

Zero-party data is data that has been given to you - often in exchange for something your readers or members find valuable. 

For example: When a user signs up for your newsletter, they’re volunteering their name, email, affiliation, and alert preferences so they can receive the right content in their preferred inbox. (Speaking of which - if you’d like to stay in the loop on data and digital transformation for publishers and associations, you can share your zero-party data with us at the bottom of this page!) 

Other zero-party data sources include event signups, filling out a download form, or creating an account. These sources are all considered very high-quality, because it is data that a customer has intentionally and proactively shared. 

First-Party Data

First-party data is data that was observed by you on your digital properties. First-party data is created anytime a user visits your website or content and performs specific actions - landing on a page, reading to the bottom of a page, downloading a PDF, etc.

First-party data is considered the most valuable data source. It is, by far, the most effective and reliable form of data collection - because it is owned entirely and exclusively by you. It can tell you a lot about what people like to do, what content they’re interested in, what they find engaging. 

But most first-party washes over your platforms without being captured, or it gets siloed in individual platforms so that your team isn’t able to act on it. 

Download the full data whitepaper to learn how publishers can access and use first-party data. 

Second-Party Data

Second-party data is data that is traded from a trusted source.

This data can be:

  • Structured: For example, a list shared with a partner or someone with a shared audience. “Here is a list of all the people that attended our annual event, and thank you for yours in return.” 
  • Unstructured: For example, allowing another publisher to place a “beacon” on your website or journal platform so they can understand usage patterns across their content, as well as yours. 

Third-Party Data

Third-party data is data that you pay for. 

It is the least reliable data source; sometimes referred to as the “hotdog meat of data.” You know that it’s a hotdog, but do you know what it's made from?

Although high quality third-party sources do exist (think PSI’s IPRegistry, AMA’s Physician masterfile, or Digital Science’s Dimensions) - there’s typically a hefty price tag to accompany the reputation and cleanliness of those data sources. 

Publishers typically buy two common types of third-party data: 

  • Email lists
  • Record augmentation to fill in gaps in their database (often using tools like Clearbit or Zoominfo) 

Third-party data can also be rented

Advertising on most social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Twitter) would be considered rented third-party data, and most of these companies collect and structure vast amounts of their own first-party user data into profiles that you can rent for targeted advertising. 

Because these platforms own the user relationship, you’re merely “renting” real estate within their platform to reach those users. 

Why is First-Party Data a Priority? 

Technology moves fast - and the way we collect and use customer data is evolving as people become more informed about what data is collected, how it’s used, and their right to privacy.

There have been significant changes in privacy and data collection laws over recent years, and Apple recently gave consumers easy ability to opt out of tracking and third-party cookies on its browser and apps - a move that cost Facebook $10,000,000,000 in advertising sales for the year. 

Google may have delayed plans to block third-party cookies to 2023, but the writing is on the wall: Third-party cookies are on the way out. 

There are numerous reasons to prioritize a first-party data strategy now:

  • First-party data opens the door to deliver personalization that your readers don’t just prefer - they expect
  • First-party data better reflects customers’ needs, intent, and preferences over time. 
  • First-party data generates more accurate insights, which drives real revenue. 

Ready to start building your first-party data strategy?

Get the (Nearly!) Complete Guide to Data for Publishers.