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Second-Party Data: The Under-Leveraged Asset in B2B Marketing

Most marketing conversations that revolve around data focus on first- and third-party data. First-party data that is owned by an advertiser is expansive and can be a lot to manage. Whether it’s storing lead information, purchase activity, email engagement, service calls, or web visits, there is a lot of information to sort through. Some of these interactions are known, (i.e., tied to personally identifiable information (PII). A large portion is anonymous (time on your website identified by a cookie, for example) and requires more processing power (and often times, insight) to derive sales and marketing value.

It’s now common for marketers to augment their first-party data with third-party data. These data are sourced and purchased in order to identify potential prospect accounts and contacts for sales and marketing efforts, or to add richness and dimension to an advertiser’s first-party data. Particularly in B2B marketing, the ability to identify industry and other firmographics is critical in allowing advertisers to execute on a cohesive segmentation and persona strategy, and to support intelligent targeting and personalization.

Marketers typically jump directly from first-party data to third-party data in marketing. It’s time to give second-party data (partner data that is shared between advertisers) a seat at the table. The partnership that allows second-party data to exist is typically a foundational relationship like a brand selling its products through a reseller or channel partner. However, second-party data could also come from a relationship entered into specifically for the purpose of data sharing.

With the prevalence of disconnected business models in B2B, the ability to draw on second-party partner data is hugely valuable for a number of uses:

  1. Partner Attribution: Second-party partner data is critical for attribution measurement of partner performance, along with the overall advertiser marketing mix and more thoughtful attribution in assigning credit to both partners and direct marketing spend.
  2. Partner Targeting: Helping your partners optimize their campaigns to the customer would ideally draw on analytics that leverage both first- and second-party data. Some tech firms are integrating partner data from multiple partners, applying predictive analytics, and sending partners target files. These support direct mail, email, and increasingly digital targeting to maximize the efficiency of marketing development funds (MDF) provided to partners.
  3. Digital Targeting: Cookies serve as a large and valuable pool of second-party data. While not widespread, some advertisers are sharing cookies to inform ad serving decisions fueled by their DMP. This allows for more relevant messaging (cross selling a customer or educating a lead) and also better efficiency through the ability to not only target, but also suppress select audiences more intelligently.  

A third-party provider can serve as “Switzerland” by managing any hosting, transfer, or analytics needed. This often removes concerns and barriers to data sharing. So, if you’re an advertiser out there who is not drawing on second-party data, start considering the benefits of doing so. It’s happening out there, and those that are making it work are able to get accurate attribution and more efficient targeting; thereby funding the effort required to integrate second-party data and gain market share in the process.