Research Study: Marketers and First Party Data

In Q3 of 2017, we conducted a survey among marketers to get a clearer picture of how they use data in their various initiatives. Data is a machine that is constantly churning out new information— but we found that most marketers miss a lot of this information due to outdated strategy and lack of technical know-how. Read on for our full results.


Background and Objectives

Our main objective with this survey was to assess the knowledge gaps between marketers and first-party data collection, management, strategy, and implementation. By asking marketers about the aforementioned knowledge bases, we can eventually provide resources that can alleviate any knowledge gaps we find.

Our Method

The survey consisted of 19 questions, powered by SurveyMonkey. It was dispersed via email and LinkedIn and received 98 responses from B2B marketers.

On the commonality of first-party data usage:

Overall, we found that 80% of marketers collect and incorporate first-party data in their marketing efforts. However, the percentage of respondents who responded “yes” should have been much closer to 100%. Industries that don’t use first-party data for media targeting purposes are financial and healthcare-related verticals—but this does not represent even 20% of our survey respondents. Most of our respondents were B2B and B2C marketers.

On how the data is used:


Nearly 90% of marketers perform retargeting with first-party data. The other means of targeting through video, mobile, email, etc. were responded to in much lower percentages. This means that most marketers use first-party data solely for retargeting as opposed to omnichannel targeting. These results show that there may be a knowledge gap and a missed opportunity to build omnichannel targeting into client campaigns. It’s best practice to layer first-party data into all targeting tactics and not just a siloed line item in a media plan for “retargeting” efforts.  

At Katana, we have seen a significant impact for brands who use first-party data beyond retargeting. Use first-party data to acquire new customers by cross-selling, up-selling and retaining customers. Develop some main objectives: Retain 85% of your customers, increase sales by 200%, or boost brand awareness 10-fold. From there, segment your first-party data based on these objectives. Once you have your audience segments, integrate them with your business systems, such as your customer purchasing system, or eCommerce platform.

We strongly recommend collecting first-party data from more than just one source. Use data from all the platforms you use for client campaigns for a multi-touch approach.

On first-party data strategies:


Only a little over a quarter of digital marketers are leveraging first-party data across all of their paid media channels. The rest of them either leverage data in a few channels, one or none at all.

Almost all major channels have the means of collecting first-party data and incorporate it into customer data platforms, pixels, and audience lookalike models. Marketers should be using first-party data from every channel they work with for their campaigns.

Incorporating omnichannel data provides more robust audience prospecting and more accurately depicts who a client’s target audience is. Some examples of different channels that collect first-party data include a brand’s website, online eCommerce store, Amazon store, social media platforms, CRM platform (customer relationship management), app usage, newsletter signups or subscriber data, etc.

Did you know? 51% of digital marketers don’t regularly update their data strategy.

Refreshing your first-party data should be done daily. In today’s volatile, ever-changing media landscape, even weeks-old data is stale and may be missing the key insights you need to keep your target audience as relevant as possible.

On having the necessary resources for first-party data initiatives:

Many clients (over 60% of them) have data management platforms they can leverage, but it appears that most respondents don’t own one. Earlier in this study, the number of marketers that use first-party data for paid media campaigns across all channels is much lower. This could be due to client media buyers lacking the knowledge on how to properly integrate first-party data from DMP’s into campaign efforts. A siloed DMP from the media buying team means that many marketers are leaving valuable data on the table.

Ultimately, marketers are lacking in both technical setup and overall knowledge— both of which are crucial to setting up data initiatives to work to their advantage. Another issue was lack of budget, which accounted for 11% of respondents.

Proper budget allocation and first-party data management depend on two things: The number of prospects their client has, and how advanced the client’s marketing efforts are. Quite often, clients spend a significant amount of their budget on retargeting efforts— however, a new feature in Google allows users to mute retargeting ads. Marketers need to help their clients expand first-party data use to executions outside of “retargeting.” For example, marketers can (and absolutely should) layer first-party data into all campaign targeting efforts such as audience lookalike modeling and creating audience targeting lists. These are both great ways to boost client prospecting efforts with first-party data. If you were to take into account the cost of technology needed to collect, manage and use first-party data the budget for a client’s first-party data initiatives should at the minimum be 50k. It should ideally by 100-150k, which if executed, would have the ability to give a very fast ROI.

Also published on Medium.