What's the difference between first-party and third-party data?

Do you know the difference between first-party and third-party data? What about second-party or zero-party data? Learn how to tell where your data comes from.

Shelly Weaver
Shelly Weaver
October 14, 2022
min read
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With our recent launch of our third-party research intent data integration, we thought it might be helpful to break down just what the difference is between first-party and third-party data, and what roles they play in the buying cycle. 

First- vs. third-party data, and everything between

You’re probably somewhat familiar with the terms first-party and third-party data, but there’s also zero-party and second-party data. The terms themselves refer to exactly where data was sourced and how it came into your hands. Each of these data types helps us better understand buying behavior and is valuable at different steps of the buying cycle. 

Zero-party data: This is any data willingly provided by a buyer–think of forms your buyer may fill out where they include their email, phone number, and company name and title. This may also be referred to as “declared data” and typically gives you a decent starting point when identifying the kind of content your buyer is searching for, or where they are in the decision-making process, but it’s not much to go by.

First-party data: Any data that’s sourced from the buyer’s behavior on your website is first-party data, or as you’ll see us refer to it–engagement intent data. This is data from observing what content your buyer is engaging with. With Qualified Signals, this includes data about which products our buyers are most interested in. We then use an AI predictive model to leverage this data and accurately assess when your most important accounts are ready to stop lurking and start talking. 

Second-party data: Data that’s collected and organized from an audience and then sold to another company is second-party data. Essentially, this is another company’s first-party data that you purchase and use to better paint a picture of your buyer. For example, if you were trying to drum up some business for a new sneaker brand, you might want to partner with a blog or newsletter for the latest sneaker trends and see about purchasing their mailing list to advertise to them. 

Third-party data: Data that comes from outside of your organization is third-party data. This is typically collected by web cookie tracking from multiple sources and tracks buyer behavior across the web. You’ve likely encountered a pop-up asking you to accept cookies throughout your time on the internet. This is essentially asking for your permission to gather data about your browsing habits. With Qualified Signals, we refer to this as research intent data.

How does the Pipeline Cloud use first- and third-party data?

The Pipeline Cloud is a set of technologies and processes that ultimately help marketing leaders generate more pipeline than ever. One of the five pillars of the Pipeline Cloud is Qualified Signals, an AI-based product offering marketers and sellers a 360-degree view of account-based buying intent. 

Qualified Signals gathers engagement intent data (web pages viewed, human and chatbot interactions, visiting frequency, etc.) and research intent data thanks to our new integration with Bombora’s data co-op and Company Surge®. This data helps your team see when buyers are in research mode, and what other products they might be looking at. 

This third-party data offers insights into the research any given account is doing and is then scored using a proprietary AI-based scoring algorithm to translate this research intent data into buying intent signals that tell your team where to prospect and when. Accounts are classified by temperature, like Cold, Warm, or Hot, to help you identify where to focus your prospecting efforts. Learn more about how research intent data is used by Qualified Signals here.

As your buyer starts showing more interest in engaging with your website, Qualified Signals aggregates this engagement data into a clear, account-based view to create an activity timeline, account trend graph, and Account 360 profile that pulls in Salesforce data as well to give you a holistic view of your buyer’s purchasing intent. 

All of this comes together to give your sales team real-time notifications when target accounts are actively engaging your website, keeping them informed of any activity that could lead to a meaningful interaction right on your website.

Want to learn more about Qualified Signals? Check it out here.

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