In this series, brought to you by FiveStones and our Google Marketing Platform consultants, we explore digital marketing and the GMP from different perspectives of our industry, to provide actionable insights to help you navigate these uncertain times.

In our previous article, we explored high level applications of first-party data within the Google Marketing Platform. In this article, we explore more insights from the Boston Consulting Group’s “Responsible Marketing With First-Party Data In Asia Pacific” report (released mid-2020), including how you can collect and use first-party data, and how first-party data activation can drive significant revenue uplift.

Read our original article on the BCG research >
Read the BCG “Responsible Marketing With First-Party Data In Asia Pacific” report >

What’s the difference between first-party, second-party and third-party data?

Firstly, before understanding how you can use first-party data activations as part of your Data-driven Marketing approach, it’s important to understand the difference between first-party, second-party and third-party data:

First-party data

First-party data is any data that you have collected about your prospects or customers directly, meaning you own and manage the data. Considered the most valuable type of data to collect, an example of first-party data is the data collected from the cookies on your website through Google Analytics.

Second-party data

Second-party data is someone else’s first party data that you utilise for your own marketing purposes. An example of second-party data is any information collected in an agency’s Google Marketing Platform licenses on behalf of their clients. While this data is being used for running the company’s marketing activities, it is owned and managed by the agency rather than the company.

Third-party data

Third-party data is any information collected by an external party that doesn’t have a direct relationship with the user the data collected from and is often aggregated from a range of different sources by a third-party data provider such as a DMP.

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

Why is first-party data important?

With the growing concerns for privacy in the market, including the deprecation of third-party cookies, more marketers and advertisers are looking to leverage first-party data as part of their digital marketing strategy.

As the first step within your first-party data strategy, it’s crucial to consider the value you’re providing to the consumer. In addition to the growing privacy concerns, there have also been a number of legislation changes globally, such as GDPR in Europe, Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados in Brazil, and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), with marketers also shifting to consent-based data models that are being demanded by the market. 

Further to this, “47% of consumers would sacrifice privacy to get a better deal” so if you are providing real value for consumers they are more than willing to provide consent to collect first-party data which can be used for more personalised, data-driven experiences.

How to use first-party data in your Digital Marketing Strategy

Data Collection

This is the mechanism that your organisation has in place to bring first-party data into the organisation which can then be used for your digital marketing strategy. With rich first-party data being the core pillar for delivering personalised and data-driven experiences across the customer journey, making sure your organisation has a detailed Measurement Plan around the types of first-party data you would like to collect provides an ongoing framework for your digital marketing strategy’s success.

This can then become your ongoing blueprint for the data you have for activation as well as additional opportunities for where you can potentially collect data to provide a more complete 360-degree view of the customer for your digital marketing strategy.

Within the Google Marketing Platform’s Ad Tech products: Campaign Manager 360 (CM360), Display & Video 360 (DV360) and Search Ads 360 (SA360), all use Floodlight activities as the core tracking system which can also be complemented with the event tracking of site visitors in Google Analytics 360 (GA360) or a select range of third-party data providers such as Alike Audience. Importantly, as part of a growing focus from Google (as exhibited by the recent Google Analytics 4 updates), the data collection in your Google Marketing Platform licenses can be combined with your email, mobile and offline data either through the connectors between Google Analytics 360 (GA360), Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Salesforce Sales Cloud, or by consolidating all of your data through BigQuery and Ads Data Hub.

Learn how to activate audiences from Salesforce Marketing Cloud in Google Analytics 360 >


Once you’ve collected first-party data, the way to start maximising the benefits within your organisation and digital marketing strategy is to activate it. As part of the latest research from the Boston Consulting Group, there are 3 core types of first-party data activation:

  • Insight & personalisation activation - use your first-party data activation to derive insights and create personalisation of your digital experiences with prospects and customers including Data-driven Creative
  • Audience activation - the use of first-party audience data for more granular audience targeting, cross-channel personalisation and lifecycle marketing
  • Measurement & predictive activation - tracking of the effectiveness of your cross-channel campaigns and the use of reporting insights to create predictive modelling and audiences

Importantly, the core objectives of the Google Marketing Platform’s Floodlight conversion tracking system align with these types of first-party activations directly, meaning that organisations that are leveraging the Google Marketing Platform can immediately see the benefits of first-party data activation for their digital marketing strategy.

In terms of predictive activation, the new Google Analytics 4 also has new predictive metrics and audience capabilities which allow activation of first-party data for predictive purposes.

56 percent of the Asia Pacific brands believe they are below average or at best 'average' at leveraging their first-party data

What’s the process for first-party data collection?

Is your organisation using the right platforms to collect first-party data? For organisations that are looking to make first-party data a core part of their digital marketing strategy, having strong data governance and first-party data collection methodology in place is crucial to achieving success.

With any organisation looking to improve their first-party data, it’s important to consider the capabilities of your Ad Tech and MarTech platforms. With the deprecation of the 3rd party cookie, many Ad Tech and MarTech platforms have continued to improve functionality and have developed privacy safe options for data collection and usage. 

As a key part of managing your first-party data, organisations need to carefully consider the tagging solution they use. Through the Global Site Tag (gtag.js), Google allows organisations to manage all their tags, whether analytics tags for Google Analytics, Ads tags for Google Ads or Floodlight tags for the GMP, in a privacy-safe way.

Specifically, the Google Marketing Platform provides an integrated ecosystem that allows you to consolidate your different cross-channel campaigns. As we mentioned earlier, this can be achieved through the use of Floodlight activities in Campaign Manager 360 (CM360), Display & Video 360 (DV360) and Search Ads 360 (SA360), along with the audience, measurement and predictive capabilities in Google Analytics 360’s (GA360).

Whether you are using the Google Marketing Platform for your first-party data or not, you should follow these best practices:

  • Understand and ensure compliance with any legal obligations in your market
  • Select your data collection source
  • Determine the best way to obtain consent, whether in-house or through a third-party Consent Management Platform
  • Ensure you are providing some sort of value to the user in exchange for their data
  • Adjust your tags based on the consent of your users, Consent Mode is an example of how you can do this
  • Ensure data collection is consistent and actionable

In-housing the Google Marketing Platform for first-party data collection

An important consideration to think about when assessing your platform or first-party data strategy is whether your organisation will in-house it’s GMP licenses or not.

As one of the core pillars of in-housing the Google Marketing Platform, data ownership allows organisations to keep control of their own Ad Tech data. In comparison, organisations that leverage the Google Marketing Platform through an agency can achieve the benefits of the platforms without the in-house investment but risk losing access to data if they move agency or want to ultimately move ad operations in-house given the accounts and data would be owned by the agency.

As an agency friendly GMP Sales Partner, we recommend a happy medium for organisations that want to continue working with their agency in the delivery of their Data-driven Marketing campaigns, procure an in-house license and provide your agency with access to run and manage your campaigns. This approach allows you to maintain ownership of your GMP data and to work with your agency with no risk of data loss.

Read more on the 3 benefits of in-housing the Google Marketing Platform >

“The top barriers to achieving significant business impact with first-party data are tech related with up to 62 percent of brands citing the inability to link technology tools as the top barrier”

How does first-party data impact an organisation’s Digital Marketing Strategy & Digital Marketing Maturity?

As the research from the BCG & Google explores, first-party data is a core pillar in the development of an organisation’s Digital Marketing Maturity with it forming the basis for more advanced applications and personalisation of your ad and digital experiences across the customer journey. 

As we have mentioned previously, Floodlight activities form an important part in collecting and activating first-party data, therefore, creating a detailed measurement plan to identify what types of first-party data you would like to collect and activate will provide you with the best chance for success. Once your Floodlight Plan has been implemented, you can begin to unlock the full power of the Google Marketing Platform, allowing you to apply first-party data across the dimensions of digital transformation: Access, Assets, Attribution, Audience, Automation.

Once the right types of first-party data are collected through your Floodlight activities, you can then look to activate it using the Google Marketing Platform’s advanced personalisation capabilities and create a data-driven feedback loop to ensure ongoing optimisation and attribution of your campaigns, using the data outlined in your measurement plan.

Submit your interest in a Digital Maturity Assessment & Audit >
Learn more about Floodlight activities in the Google Marketing Platform >


For organisations that want to improve their digital marketing strategy, particularly with growing privacy concerns in the market, first-party data is a core pillar that organisations need to first develop and master before being able to drive advanced personalisation, solutions and ultimately results. 

Currently, many organisations are yet to really unearth the full power of first-party data, meaning there are major opportunities for organisations to use it to develop a competitive advantage within their industry. By working with key strategic digital partners like FiveStones and using Measurement Planning as the blueprint, these goals around collecting, activating and creating returns from first-party data become much more achievable.

For support or more information on first-party data strategy in the Google Marketing Platform, speak to the original Google Marketing Platform Sales Partner in APAC, FiveStones.

Stay tuned for additional insights from our Data-driven Marketing in Uncertain Times series including step-by-step guides, deep-dives, practitioner tips and useful information. Feel free to contact the FiveStones team anytime to chat about the Google Marketing Platform and our services.