As one of the largest economies in the world, China is becoming an increasing focus for many organisations and industries. With the impending ‘death of the cookie’, organisations across Greater China are in a similar position to those globally, looking for alternatives, such as first-party data, to use for targeting of their digital advertising. With advanced first-party targeting capabilities and the ability to enhance first-party data, in-housing the Google Marketing Platform provides marketers and advertisers in Greater China the technological capabilities to be successful in the changing landscape.

In this article, we’ll explore the importance of first-party data, how the Google Marketing Platform can help you build your first-party data and where that fits within the Greater China market.

The importance of first-party data

Firstly, what is first-party data? It is any data that is directly collected by an organisation with the permission of users. 

As we discussed in our article about the BCG’s 2020 research, it’s important to recognise the impact that the deprecation of third-party cookies is going to have on privacy and the advertising industry. For organisations in Greater China and beyond currently using third-party cookies as part of their targeting strategy, first-party data provides an effective alternative for advertisers to continue and improve their targeting online.

“Digitally mature brands leveraging first-party data in advanced marketing activations were able to achieve 1.5X – 2.9X higher revenue uplift”

First-party data and the Google Marketing Platform

As a consolidated digital ecosystem, the Google Marketing Platform provides the necessary technology for marketers across Greater China to maximise their investment in digital.

With products including the ecosystem’s Demand-side Platform, Display & Video 360 (DV360), Search Management Platform, Search Ads 360 (SA360) and ad-server, Campaign Manager 360, users of the GMP can generate and leverage first-party data in the form of Floodlight activities, the conversion tracking pixel of the Google Marketing Platform, and the GMPs powerful targeting capabilities. This can be achieved by using Floodlight activities for audience creation and segmentation (and combining with the GMPs targeting), reporting and tracking of customer actions on your web, app and ad properties as well as providing data signals to personalise your Data-driven Creative.

“62 percent of brands cit(e) the inability to link technology tools as the top barrier (to achieving significant business impact with first-party data)”

Importantly, as part of the first-party targeting available in Display & Video 360, advertisers in Greater China can create audience segments based on specific locations, using latitude and longitude, which is known as proximity targeting. This type of targeting means advertisers can improve the personalisation of their ads based on the specific location of their audience’s exact location.

Learn more about Proximity Targeting >

Enhancing your first-party data in the Google Marketing Platform

In addition to the first-party audiences the Google Marketing Platform is capable of building, the platforms also has a number of free Google Audiences that you can use alongside or in combination with your first-party data-based audiences. These Google audiences use the power of Google’s anonymised sign-in data to give advertisers additional targeting power with audiences such as affinity (those that have a known interest in a particular area or subject) or custom intent (people who have searched for specific terms on Google Search) just to name a few (see below for additional types of Google Audiences).

Google Audiences

Further to this, the Google Marketing Platform also has a number of native connectors to Data Management Platforms (DMPs) which can be used to compliment your first-party audiences and create more granular segments for increased personalisation and effectiveness of campaigns run through the GMP. 

An example of a DMP that can be used this way is Alike Audience, who provide consent-based data attributes to enhance GMP targeting abilities (and achieve up to 70% reach). The audience targeting is based on mobile device IDs (not cookies) which are personally identifiable (which Google does not allow), meaning there’s no impact from the deprecation of 3rd party cookies or if individual users change browsers or their privacy settings. It is however, important to note that in order to use a DMP within the GMP, you must have at least $50,000 USD spend in your account and the license must be at least 3 months old.

In-housing the Google Marketing Platform

Importantly, for organisations in Greater China that in-house their Google Marketing Platform licenses, they can achieve greater control and transparency of their data through data ownership. As we discussed in our previous article, these benefits of in-housing the Google Marketing Platform mean an organisation’s first-party data is owned and actionable in your digital marketing, with real value attached to it rather than it being held within your agency’s licenses.

Where it all fits in the Greater China market

With the benefits of first-party data and how it can be used through the Google Marketing Platform in mind, how does this fit within the wider Chinese market?

As is the case globally, Chrome is the leading browser in China, accounting for 42.72% of the market share as of March 2021, according to Statcounter. Across Greater China, Chrome also has a dominant 58.52% market share in Hong Kong and 61.23% market share in Taiwan. Chrome is the last (and biggest) major browser to deprecate third-party cookies following Apple’s initial release of Intelligent Tracking Prevention back in 2017 and updates in Sep 2020, then Mozilla Firefox’s blocking of third-party cookies in Sep 2019.

As part of the growing privacy regulations globally as a result of these changes, China also brought in their own standard for data protection, the Personal Information Security Specification, back on 1 May 2018 which is similar to GDPR but with stricter processes.

Importantly, organisations ‘leading the pack’ when it comes to digital have already started the shift of focus to first-party data, exhibited by a recent case study of Hong Kong-based publisher, South China Morning Post. As part of it’s digital transformation, the publisher uses the first-party cookies within its Customer Data Platform to consolidate disparate sources of data in the one place, also going as far as to stop using its Data Management Platform to eliminate the use of third-party data.

When it comes to the Google Marketing Platform, organisations across Greater China can leverage the GMP’s powerful first-party data targeting capabilities (including market and location specific data capturing and audience targeting) to achieve the benefits discussed as part of the Boston Consulting Group’s 2020 research

Further to this, the Google Marketing Platform also has its own Google Audiences available for targeting and can connect with Data Management Platforms such as Alike Audience, combining first-party data with contextual targeting which allows more granular audience segmentation for campaigns.


With first-party data identified as the way forward in a post cookie world, top organisations across Greater China, including the South China Morning Post, have already shifted to powering their digital efforts with first-party data and complimentary products such as Google Audiences and Customer Data Platforms.  The earlier the shift is made by organisations across Greater China, the earlier the benefits can be seen as identified by the 2020 research from the Boston Consulting Group.

For more information on the Google Marketing Platform and how you can build your first-party data in the Greater China market using the GMP, please get in touch with your local FiveStones team today.