The renaissance of third-party data to future-proof advertisers targeting

By DeepSync Labs

Let’s be clear. Third-party data is alive, well and continues to be a targeting mainstay for advertisers — as it has been for decades. It’s third-party cookies that are dying. At the same time, the use of mobile identifiers is also changing, with Apple’s iOS 14.5 April update now requiring all apps to ask for permission before they can track a user. Currently, only 14% of users worldwide have done so.


So what does this mean for advertisers? Well, they need to be rethinking their targeting and reporting approach if they want to continue delivering effective campaigns.  


Whether it’s lazy industry commentators, the fact both are part of the data landscape or the similarity in the names, marketers confuse ‘third-party cookies’ and ‘third-party data’.  They see them as the same when they are two very different entities. 


One — third-party cookies — lets multiple systems talk to each other and are not domain-specific. They enable data to be passed from entity to entity via syncing for tracking, targeting and personalisation.    


The other — third-party data — is information collected and collated by a third-party business in a privacy-safe way and made publicly available to advertisers. This data is compiled from a wealth of online and offline sources, meaning it’s not purely a digital phenomenon.

We discuss more about these differences in our past blog.

The distinction is crucial. The end of one does not mean the end of the other. The blocking of third-party cookies doesn’t necessarily impact third-party data. In fact, the demise of third-party cookies and the impact on audience targeting makes third-party data more critical for advertisers.

6 reasons why advertisers need to be using third-party data


The death of the cookie and the challenges presented by the iOS 14.5 update have negative implications for targeting that require advertisers to find alternative solutions to plug the gaps. To achieve their objectives, marketers need a multi-faceted approach, and third-party data must be part of the strategy. Why? Well, this is because:


1.     First-party data is not enough. With the demise of third-party cookies, first-party data — information a business collects directly from its customers — is being hailed as the advertiser’s saviour. And rightly so because it’s accurate, relevant and valuable. But it lacks scale. Enhancing first-party data with third-party data signals brings greater customer insights, allowing marketers to find new audiences to grow their businesses.   Third-party data is also crucial to support those businesses that are removed from the customer transaction, so struggle to build out first-party data.  


2.     Advertisers want deeper customer insights.  When it comes to data, there is no single source of truth. More data means more insights: insights that can reveal new intelligence that an advertiser may never have known. Demographic, behavioural, location and preference data build a clearer picture of a brand’s audience.  These profound understandings drive better decisions - from segmentation, targeting, and personalisation to opening up new opportunities and markets.


For example, a Facebook advertiser can identify people’s broad interests based on their behaviour on the site. But it tells them little about them as individuals. Using third-party data signals delivers richer insight, allowing them to market to them better.


3.     Better targeting means better results. This is a marketing fundamental. Third-party data delivers precision, and as targeting is key to campaign success, these become more efficient and effective. And this is not confined just to delivering performance. Third-party data is equally valuable in helping advertisers with targeting upper and middle funnel activity.   


4.     Marketers want more than context. Contextual targeting is firmly in the spotlight, plugging a targeting gap and helping deliver brand safety. Even so, marketers are not convinced it’s the solution. Lotame’s Beyond the Cookie survey found that 65% of marketers are not confident contextual targeting alone is a replacement for audience targeting.


5.     User segments can be applied to multiple channels. The consistent nature of third-party user segments means advertisers can leverage them in every critical channel — online and offline — knowing it’s the same target, whatever the environment. 


6.     It’s tried, tested and trusted. Third-party data is not new. Advertisers have relied on this data to drive targeting for years, first in the offline world and then embracing it online. It’s a $20bn a year industry delivered by global businesses like Experian, Acxiom and Dun & Bradstreet. And its value in addressing the decline of third-party cookies is recognized, Experian’s collaboration with InfoSum being one example of this. And, as is the case when buying any data, selecting reputable sources guarantees it is accurate, privacy-compliant and trustworthy.     

Plus ça change……


In marketing, it’s often the case that what’s old is new again, which is true of third-party data. Savvy advertisers and progressive agencies are taking advantage of what it delivers to address the targeting void opening up with the demise of third-party cookies.


In recent research we carried out on LinkedIn, we found 82% of responders experienced delivery issues with Facebook campaigns following the iOS 14.5 update in April. Advertisers need to take action now to tackle the emerging targeting crisis.


To understand what data is available to support your campaigns, you can start by exploring our data packages or contact