Despite the uncertainty brought about by COVID-19, the digital ad industry has long been shifting towards a more first-party data-focused future with many other factors including changing privacy legislations, more personalised marketing and increasing predictive capabilities as part of the predictive marketing era driving this change.

In this article, we explore the importance of enriching your first-party data, the impact first-party data can have during the current uncertainty in the market and some strategies you can use to develop your first-party data using the Google Marketing Platform.

Changing privacy landscape

As many marketers and advertisers will already be aware, there have been a number of changes to global privacy legislation over the past few years, including GDPR (Europe), the California Consumer Privacy Act and Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais (Brazil). While organisations in these regions have had to adapt their digital marketing to reflect these changes in legislation, leading organisations are asking bigger questions about their data practices and how these can be implemented in a way that is in line with consumer expectations.

Along with this, the ‘death of the third party cookie’ is another change that is heavily impacting the way that marketers and advertisers are going to market with their digital strategy. With all the major browsers having blocked or on the verge of blocking third party cookies, this has prompted many in the industry to shift towards first-party data as their key source of truth. Research from firms such as the Boston Consulting Group have further reinforced the importance of using first-party data as a core capability for organisations in a post-third party cookie world.

The importance of enriching your 1st party data during uncertainty - privacy 1

Continued personalisation of marketing

According to Salesforce, 66% of customers expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations. By building your different data points using first-party data, your organisation can begin to create a more structured, data-driven view of your customers and prospects throughout the customer journey so you can deliver the more personalised messages that consumers expect these days.

In particular, when it comes to display advertising, 70% of campaign performance comes down to creative so using dynamic, data-driven creatives are an extremely effective way to leverage different data you collect to generate personalised messaging and better performance. Further to this, we explore additional personalisation opportunities in the Google Marketing Platform below.

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Increasing predictive capabilities

With the movement into the predictive marketing era, there’s been a continued growth of organisations using technology to forecast and predict customer behaviour. According to CIO, predictive analytics has “a global market projected to reach approximately $10.95 billion by 2022”.

Perhaps the most common form of predictive marketing being used in the market today is customer lifetime value (CLV) and as we’ll touch on below, both Display & Video 360 (DV360) and Search Ads 360 (SA360) within the Google Marketing Platform allow advertisers to leverage customer lifetime value as part of the bidding strategy. There is also a built in CLV report built into Google Analytics that leading organisations are leveraging to focus their digital marketing to their most profitable customers.

In addition to this, for organisations using Google Analytics 4, the platform allows them to use predictive metrics: purchase probability or the probability that a user who was active in the last 28 days will log a specific conversion event within the next 7 days as well as churn probability or probability that a user who was active on your app or site within the last 7 days will not be active within the next 7 days. These metrics can then be activated as predictive audiences (within Google Ads) to drive continued digital performance.

Read more on how GA4 can help your analytics strategy >

Where does first-party data fit within this uncertainty?

Along with these shifts in the market and COVID-19 impacting how many industries go-to-market, including how they choose to advertise across digital, organisations that have built or are building a strong first-part data strategy are driving their digital transformation and future-proofing their ability to connect with and satisfy the needs of their customers. Importantly, when thinking about where first-party data fits in, particularly in times of uncertainty, you need to take the following questions into consideration:

  • Does the application of privacy within my digital offerings satisfy the legal requirements within the market we are delivering it in?
  • What data are we collecting and why?
  • What value are we providing customers and prospects in exchange for their data?
  • What processes do we have in place to collect our first-party data?
  • How are we validating our first-party data?
  • How can we leverage our first-party data as a form of competitive advantage?
  • How can we use our first-party data to tailor and personalise or offerings?
  • Is our data strategy robust or has it been future-proofed if the market suddenly changes?

Of course, these are just some of the core considerations your organisation should be thinking about with more detailed data strategy requiring a plan and documentation. Whether you are leveraging the Google Marketing Platform or not, when you partner with a consultancy like FiveStones, we work with you to build out all the data documentation you need including Floodlight Plans for your GMP data management strategy.

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How to use the Google Marketing Platform to collect & activate your first-party data during uncertainty?

The Google Marketing Platform allows advertisers to connect their first-party data across channels and devices to form a unified view of their prospects and customers.

Campaign Manager 360 & Studio

As the ad server of the Google Marketing Platform, Campaign Manager 360 is a core platform for marketers to get started with collecting and activating their first-party data. Using the conversion tracking pixel of the GMP, Floodlight activities, you can measure actions across your web, app and ad properties and create behaviour-based audiences using custom rules to further segment.

The importance of enriching your first-party data during uncertainty - Campaign Manager 360 logo

As we discussed earlier, Data-driven Creative is an effective method for personalising creative at scale using your first-party data. You can set this up in Campaign Manager 360, using the integration to Studio which provides SDKs & a UI to manage uploaded creative as well as the ability to set some rules & parameters for your dynamic creative.

Display & Video 360 (DV360)

As the demand-side platform for the Google Marketing Platform, Display & Video 360 or DV360 allows marketers to buy and traffick campaigns to a range of different inventory and channels. Similar to Campaign Manager 360, DV360 leverages first-party data through Floodlight for conversions and audience creation.

The importance of enriching your first-party data during uncertainty - DV360 logo

In fact, you can use combined audiences to consolidate first-party Floodlight audiences with Google audiences for more advanced, granular targeting and as we explored earlier, is important for personalisation of an organisation’s digital marketing.

From an insights perspective, DV360 has a range of reports available in the platform for advertisers to analyse their first-party data. Again similar to Campaign Manager 360, you can conduct ad hoc analysis of common dimensions and metrics or look at more detailed metrics across audience reach, third-party audiences or conversion paths. The platform also has campaign alerts and event history that allow you to keep track of your campaigns and the first-party data that you are collecting through those campaigns.

Finally, you can integrate your Display & Video 360 (DV360) account with Google Analytics 360 to add your cost and campaign data together with your web and app data.

Search Ads 360 (SA360)

Next within the GMP, the Search Management platform, Search Ads 360 (SA360), has similar first-party data capabilities with the creation of behaviour-based remarketing audiences across your search and social channels, again using Floodlight as the data collection mechanism. This can also be combined with offline conversion data through the use of the platform’s bulk sheets or SA360 API functions which can then have Floodlight activities created for each offline conversion. 

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Similar to Display & Video 360 (DV360), you can link Search Ads 360 (SA360) to Google Analytics 360 to integrate your campaign data between the two platforms and activate audiences for your search campaigns. This along with the first-party data collected via your Floodlight activities can be used to power your bidding strategy within the platform.


With factors such as changing privacy legislations, more personalised marketing and increasing predictive capabilities as part of the predictive marketing era resulting in greater uncertainty within the market, leading organisations are shifting their focus towards a rich first-party data based strategy. Asking the right questions and having the right technology in place, such as the Google Marketing Platform, is important in driving more effective and meaningful communication with customers and prospects.

For consultation or support in developing your first-party, please contact the experts at FiveStones today.