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The New Superhero Of Advertising: First-Party Data


In 2017, The Economist wrote “the world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data”. Over the past four years, the topic has generated much discussion with the realisation that data is one of the biggest drivers of successful marketing and advertising today. Data is as vital in the digital age, as oil was in the industrial age. If you’re not focused on clear data collection strategies to connect with your customers, you’re going to fall behind your competitors. There have been some recent changes, significantly impacting the use of third-party data and advertisers need to take note. In this blog we take you through the key recent changes, the data landscape and the next steps you can take to use data to achieve your strategic goals.

Let’s start with the basics

Currently, two common ways for advertisers and marketers to collect data is through the use of tracking pixels and cookies. Both are different but the outcome is the same: they track user behaviour. Tracking pixels are a teeny tiny graphic (1x1 pixels) that is loaded when a user visits a website or opens an email. They are designed to be transparent or camouflaged in the background colour of a website or email so that they don’t stand out to the visitor. Information such as website visited, the time that an email was read, activities on a website during a given session, IP address, type of operating system or client used etc., can all be acquired and analysed with a tracking pixel.

On the other hand, cookies are currently used by almost all websites to keep track of a users’ session. Not all of them are bad! In fact, first-party cookies are used to improve user experience, for example, keeping you logged into websites. However, the issue arises when cookies are used to track almost everything you do online. They run silently in the background, compiling long-term records of a user's browsing behaviour. These are called third-party cookies and are used mostly by advertisers and ad platforms, such as Google and Facebook to serve ads that are ‘relevant’ to the user, even as they navigate through unrelated parts of the web.

Why is this relevant now?

In 2020, Google announced that it plans to block third-party cookies from Chrome by 2022 - a decision that other browsers (like Firefox and Safari) made years ago. If you’re currently using third-party cookies to collect data about your moviegoers for example and then using this as a retargeting tactic, you might want to reconsider your marketing strategy and incorporate the collection of first-party data instead - to track behaviour and serve hyper-personalised content to your moviegoers.

Similarly in the latest iPhone update (iOS 14.5) Apple released a significant new feature, ‘App Tracking Transparency’. Previously developers and advertisers have been able to track user’s behaviour through an Apple controlled system, Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), and other third-party tools. While the App Tracking Transparency doesn’t change the ability to track, it does put the users choice to consent to tracking front and centre. Once users are on the latest iOS version they have two clear choices: ‘Allow [tracking]’ or ‘Ask App Not to Track’. Once a user clicks ‘Ask App Not to Track’, no tracking can be done on that customer using any system and consequently none of their data can be sold to third parties. There has been a lot of push back from advertisers on this change, most prominently from Facebook. It’s also still uncertain how many Apple users will allow tracking to happen, recent figures show only 4% of iOS users in the US have said yes to tracking. 

Now, more than ever, with these recent changes, high-quality first-party data is essential for movie marketers to know, understand, and communicate with moviegoers. So what exactly is first-party data? How is it different, why is it important, and how is it useful? 

The privacy issue: third-party data

It’s happened to all of us - you’re browsing the internet and then suddenly, every social media page or website you visit has an advertisement for what you were just looking at. No, the internet is not reading your mind (yet!). Companies are using third-party data such as cookies or tracking pixels to tailor paid ads in order to retarget you, in the hopes that you’ll convert. 

These days may soon be over. As mentioned above, Google announced its plan to remove third-party cookies from its browser, a change that is significant because Chrome owns two-thirds of the web browser market. Third-party cookies support much of the targeted advertising industry so even though other browsers have stopped supporting them, Google was the first to produce a replacement (called FLoC), advertising support as it plans to phase out it’s support for cookies and introduce a group profiling system for advertisers. However it’s worth noting that Google hasn’t sought Chrome users consent for the current tests it's undertaking for FLoC and at the moment no other browser has committed to using FLoC. 

As a movie marketer, a move towards a more ‘collective identity’ could mean that moviegoers won’t necessarily be served the movies that are relevant to them as they will be in a generalised group. Additionally, Google still cannot recognise the behaviours of these moviegoers - have they already seen the film? Were they really interested in that movie just because they watched the trailer? And how do they know that was the right movie to surface in comparison to the others on the market? This is where third-party data really falls short because you could be spending a lot of your marketing dollars targeting the wrong moviegoers.

Similarly, tracking pixels are often criticized by data protection advocates because they essentially collect comprehensive data about the visitor, mostly without their consent or knowledge of it happening. Critics argue that user privacy is being violated with the use of tracking pixels, especially with the transmission of IP addresses, making it possible to match information to other information on the internet, such as to a profile in a forum or social network.

The silver medal goes to: second-party data 

In a nutshell, second-party data is somebody else’s first party data that is used second hand. While second-party data is a relatively new concept in comparison to its counterparts, it can be extremely useful if you partner with a company who has the dataset you are needing. Generally speaking, it’s of high quality because it came directly from the company that collected it

Enter first-party data

Let’s start with a basic definition: first-party data is the information you collect directly from your moviegoers or consumers; you own it and manage it. It includes data from behaviours, actions, or interests and can be derived from either declarative / demographic data or behavioural data.

  • Declarative data such as name, email address, language preference or favourite cinema location
  • Behavioural data such as an action taken on your website, what movie someone watched, a trailer watched, the ticket type purchased or where the ticket was purchased (e.g. mobile, kiosk, in-cinema POS or a third-party website) 

Essentially, first-party data is the information you collect with consent and is a result of a direct and trusted relationship with a consumer, which makes it the most powerful form of data. So why is it so important to focus on collecting this type of data?

  • It comes directly from the source so it’s accurate, relevant and qualitative 
  • It allows you to gain insights into your audience
  • It’s easier to ensure compliance, data protection and privacy
  • It’s completely owned by you

Owning first-party data also gives you the freedom to create segments, profiles and audiences. With Movio, you can leverage the data’s accuracy and relevance to predict future behaviours, such as which movie a person is likely to watch, with confidence. If your data reveals, for example, that a moviegoer has seen Avengers Endgame, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and It: Chapter Two, you can predict, based on Movio’s proprietary Propensity Algorithm that they are highly likely to see Joker next. 

Collecting first-party data has significant advantages - hyper-personalisation, increased targeting, more relevance, and better marketing spend. So, how do you put strategies in place to collect first-party data from your visitors? Here are a few ideas:

  • Encourage your moviegoers to activate their loyalty cards and include mandatory information such as name, email address, phone number and birthday
  • Ask moviegoers to subscribe to your mailing list to receive relevant and personalized content and movie recommendations
  • Include mandatory fields when moviegoers make a ticket purchase online
  • Prompt moviegoers to sign into your website with their email address or loyalty number so you can find out what they’re interested in
  • Provide an incentive to your moviegoers to give further information about themselves
  • Encourage moviegoers to download your mobile app and ensure there is a sign in or sign up requirement
  • Ask for more information at the end of a survey
  • Remember, with first-party data, consent is key - especially in a world where privacy and compliance is at the forefront of everyone’s mind

So what next

So, what does this mean for you as a movie marketer? Firstly, don’t panic! The disappearance of third-party cookies was inevitable with Firefox and Safari already taking the lead. There are too many issues with this type of data collection, and to put it simply, it’s the least effective way of targeting and communicating with your moviegoers on a personal level.

Focus firstly on collecting qualitative first-party data about your moviegoers and consumers. Focusing on this will bring more transparency to digital advertising and will give your moviegoers more control over how their data is collected, used and shared. It also means your campaigns will be more targeted and personalised - a win-win for everyone.

Secondly, take time to understand the different types of first-party data and which type can help with certain marketing goals. In our next blog, we’ll be taking a deep dive into different types of first-party data, how behavioural data compares to demographic data, and some easy ways of incorporating both into your campaign strategies. 

Finally consider the best technology and tools that can help to demystify the trends within the data for effortless use and connection with your customers. At Movio we’ve developed a compliant first solution that now makes it possible to reach moviegoers across digital and social, without the need of third party data, cookies or pixels and we’ll be sharing more on this exciting development soon. Watch this space! 

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