Data (3P, 2P, 1P)

Any conversation about Marketing today has to include a discussion on data and at the highest level the different types. Data can typically fall into 3 buckets: 1st party, 2nd party, and 3rd third party (You’ll often see these abbreviated to 1P, 2P & 3P). If you’re just starting to work with data it’s important that you have an understanding of these different types, their differences and how they can be used. Before we get into that though let’s look at how this data is captured, created and derived...

Broadly speaking data can be explicitly or implicitly derived.  Data derived explicitly is typically the result of a questionnaire (How old are you, what’s your phone number, select your interests from this list etc) This information is considered reliable but it’s not flawless in all situations, a consumer may misstate their interests for example but a home address entered for product delivery is generally very reliable. Data derived implicitly is inferred, based on a consumer’s actions. For example, you may infer that a consumer is a parent because they have visited the children’s clothing section of your website or you may categorize them as a car owner because they requested a quote for auto insurance. While both of these could be true they aren’t guaranteed, I could be an uncle/ aunt buying for a newborn, I could be researching insurance costs for a car I don’t yet own…


First-party data is YOUR data, data that you have collected directly from your audience or consumers. This can include data from behaviors, actions or interests demonstrated across your website(s); data you have in your CRM; subscription data; social data; or cross-platform data from mobile web or apps. The limiting factor here is of course your reach/ scale. Unless you are Google or Facebook your purview on the world is very narrow. You know how the data is collected, under what conditions and the rules that are applied to it. There’s full transparency – you own or have complete control of the consumer touch points. While you don’t have to pay any vendor for this data there is an underlying maintenance cost associated with the technology and resources responsible for the collection process.


Third party data is data you have acquired from a third party and can again be explicit or implicit. In the instance of third party data however you are wholly dependent on the third party to determine how the data is collected and the rules applied to it. You have no control of their practices, process, governance or cleansing procedures.

With third party data there is the opportunity to achieve significant scale through some very large data aggregators. When purchasing third party data, there are many factors that buyers should be aware of, including whether the company uses modeling or registration-based data. Implicit/ modelled and explicit/ registration derived demographic information are two very different things, and which one will work best for a particular campaign will depends on your goals.


Second-party data is somebody else’s first party data. Unlike third party data it isn’t widely available and therefore hasn’t been commoditized. It’s typically acquired (purchased or traded) through trusted partners who are willing to share their customer data (and vice versa). These trusted partners typically have an existing relationship like retailers and manufacturers who often share marketing assets. There’s already a trust and mutual understanding of each other’s business. Sharing data and audiences makes sense to achieve the shared goal of driving sales via the retailer.