First- and Third-Party Data: What’s the difference?

First- and Third-Party Data: What's the difference?

As more and more renters start their apartment searches online, social media advertising has become an increasingly powerful tool in multifamily community marketing strategy. Social media platforms like Facebook provide an opportunity to target your marketing efforts toward your ideal audience of prospective renters.

But when Facebook changes its targeted advertising rules, your community needs to re-examine the data you use for your advertising strategy. Data jargon can get technical fast, but understanding common terms like first- and third-party data is a great place to start.

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

When you use Facebook or other social media advertising, your company faces the challenge of navigating an enormous network in order to land in front of your ideal audience. By using data sets to make laser-focused ads, your company can generate a bigger ROI on your advertising dollars.

With more data available than ever before, companies can use detailed indicators to target ads to prospects. However, data can come from many different possible sources, and the quality of the data is key to successful outreach.

“First-party data” is information that a company collects directly from customers, website visitors, or social media followers. First-party data provides insight into customer behavioral trends and can inform your advertising strategy. These data sets reflect the audience already engaging with your industry in some way and works best for targeted Facebook ads.

“Third-party data” is data collected by a group that doesn’t have a direct link to the actual customer. These data sets are often compiled by large data aggregators and sold to agencies or individual companies. It is usually not as fresh or accurate as first-party data, making it less ideal for Facebook advertising.

When you use third-party data you may wind up reaching a broader audience than necessary, meaning a waste of time, money, and resources. For example, if you’re looking to share an ad with people who are in the market to buy shoes, you may wind up also reaching people who are in the market to buy shirts – and people who don’t want shoes at all.

What data should you use for social media advertising?

Some communities choose to work with advertising agencies to place targeted ads on social media. However, many agencies use third-party data purchased from data aggregators. As noted above, this data may be overly broad and/or unfocused.

You can also use the tools that Facebook provides to develop audiences based on allowed criteria. Previously, Facebook allowed companies to use information like ZIP codes to target ads. However, due to recent events, Facebook’s has significantly altered its advertising policy.  As a result, using Facebook’s ad tools alone has become less effective, particularly for multifamily communities looking to use the platform to reach in-market renters in a specific location.

First-party data: the best bet

At this time, first-party data seems to be the best bet for multifamily communities that are using Facebook as part of their advertising strategy. Consider working with a partner that has access to proprietary data about in-market renters to avoid wasting time, money, or resources on ads that aren’t reaching the ideal audience.

Discussions of data can feel endlessly technical, but choosing the source of your data doesn’t need to be complicated. By understanding your advertising options and the definition of both first- and third-party data, you can make informed decisions about your community’s social media advertising strategy to improve your ROI and see stronger results.

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