Third-Party Data: What it is, its Benefits and Best Use Case

Now more than ever, data has become a part of our daily lives. Whether we browse websites on our desktops, tablets or smartphones; give out business cards with our contact information in exchange for a free lunch, purchase from a brick-and-mortar store or online, we know that information collected about us (either as individuals or as a company), our interests and our purchasing habits can be used for data-driven marketing campaigns.


Sophisticated consumers and businesses expect, if not demand, personalization or relevancy in the communications they receive. Otherwise, the message will likely end up deleted, ignored or simply moved to the email junk folder.It’s also imperative that marketing efforts be optimized for mobile. According to the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of consumers in the U.S. own a smartphone. So, sending the right message to the right person at the right time can be highly effective in reaching consumers 24/7 on platforms where they live, learn and shop.Data, despite recent media reports, isn’t the dark, nefarious boogeyman we need to fear. Increasingly, targeted audience segments simply allow companies or brands to better target and personalize their messaging, answering prospects’ collective questions of ‘what’s in it for me?’Let’s take a deeper dive into the types of data that companies and vendors use today and the benefits of each.

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What is Third-Party Data?Examples of Third-Party DataHow is Third-Party Data Collected and Used?What Are the Benefits of Third-Party Data?How Third-Party Data Differs from First- and Second-Party DataThird-Party Data in a Marketing Campaign: A Real-World ExampleConclusion

What is Third-Party Data?

Third-party data is any data collected from a variety of sources by a company with no direct connection to the consumer whose data is collected. Third party data sources may include websites, social media networks, surveys, and subscriptions.

Examples of Third-Party Data

Some examples of third-party data include: first and last name, email address, postal address, phone numbers, social media handles, purchase history and website browsing activities.

How is Third-Party Data Collected and Used?

Third-party data is collected and used by data management platforms (DMPs) or data providers to enrich or create targeted profile segments that can be bought by companies or brands for their marketing campaigns. Think of third-party data as unrelated bits of information or puzzle pieces, which are then aggregated and pieced together to complete an existing data set and/or increase the size of an audience segment.Companies can either purchase these segments or enrich their own first-party data to create better targeted and larger audience segments for one- or multi-channel campaigns, which can include direct mail, print media, radio, television, but especially email, social media and digital marketing efforts.

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What Are the Benefits of Third-Party Data?

The benefits of third-party data include the ability to supplement existing data files or create new segments for better audience targeting on a broader and deeper scale.Using third-party data allows a company or brand to go beyond its usual audience. This allows companies to grow the size of their targeted audience to include, for example, new prospects who purchase similar or complementary products or services from a direct competitor or partner company.

How Third-Party Data Differs from First- and Second-Party Data

First-party data is data companies collect from its own website. No guessing. In the marketing/advertising world, your data is gold! You have prospects’ browsing and purchase history on your site. It’s valuable information to have for future or current campaigns!For example, let’s say a customer bought a pair of shoes on a company’s website. The data with browsing and purchase history obtained from the company’s website makes it prime for retargeting ads. A few days after they receive their shoes in the mail, they begin receiving retargeting ads for socks your company also sells. Perhaps, even enticing them with a “by one, get one free” offer! Sweet!And, if users consent to allowing your site to collect cookies, you’ll now collect data as they browse the internet.Second-party data is collected through a partner company, using their first-party data. Many times, partners may exchange, barter or sell the data sets they’ve collected. If first-party data can be compared to a Ferrari, second party data would be a Mercedes or BMW.One example of second-party data might include going online to browse items at a baby boutique. You make a purchase of a few baby items either online or in the store using a credit card. It doesn’t take long before you notice retargeting ads showing up online for either this baby boutique, their direct competitors, diaper manufacturers or even local pediatricians. Before long, complimentary magazines with subscription offers targeting new moms and coupons for diapers, formula and other essentials for baby begin showing up in your mailbox.Another example: Imagine you’ve purchased airline tickets to your dream destination. Many times, there are agreements between airlines and other travel partners, such as rental car agencies and hotels, that can use the information shared by the airline for the rental car agency or hotel to leverage and send reminders to book your car and hotel reservations before you travel.Bottom line, you know second-party data is reliable because you’re leveraging your trusted partner’s first-party data!

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Third-Party Data in a Marketing Campaign: A Real-World Example

L’Oreal is a well-known global brand that, through its namesake brand, as well as its subsidiaries (which include Lancôme, Maybelline and Garnier among others), manufactures and distributes skin care, fragrances, hair care and cosmetic products.Targeting your competitors’ followers, a.k.a. Competitive conquesting, simply makes sense. They’re already interested in the products (or services) offered by your competitor that you also sell. Social platforms, such as Twitter are ripe with such prospects. The average Twitter user follows at least five or more companies/brands, with more than one-third purchasing from a company they follow.For Stirista, the three competitive conquesting segments for L’Oreal were broken down as Drugstore, Indie and Luxe. Working with L’Oreal’s VP of data acquisitions, Stirista first compiled data from the social followers of L’Oreal’s competitors to refine and better target their messaging to the appropriate product line among the various categories and segments.From there, Stirista identified L’Oreal’s audience prospects who followed their competitors’ social media handles. To create conquesting segments within each category, Stirista matched the prospects’ Twitter handles with name and postal information to better enable data-driven, targeted creative.The result: Within a few months of launching the campaign, L’Oreal saw a 12-percent or more increase in usage across each segment, month over month, as well as a lower cost per click.


Third-party data should be an integral part of any data-driven marketing campaign.Data aggregated from a variety of sources, whether it be websites, surveys or publicly available information, like land deeds or driving records, can provide data that is rich in both breadth and depth, making for more targeted and more effective messaging that can boost brand recognition and reputation, and ultimately, the brand’s ROI.

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About the author

Stirista began as an ambitious project from an apartment in San Francisco. But as office space expanded, so did our client base. After a few short years, we have worked with the largest healthcare insurance provider in the world, the biggest telecommunication company in the US, and some of the most prestigious universities in the country. We are on the preferred vendor list for a handful of Fortune 500 companies, with three of the ten largest companies in the world turning to us for...

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