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Subtypes of Zero-party Data
A quick overview of explicitly collected entity data and identity data.
In the previous post, I offered an in-depth overview of the subtypes of first-party data — do check it out before jumping into this post where I describe the subtypes of zero-party data.
As a reminder, data collected by an organization or brand from a user explicitly is zero-party data, which can further be split into entity data and identity data.
I want to focus on the individual user or Person entity but the same concepts apply to group entities like Account or Merchant.
Also, the whole idea behind zero-party data is to empower the end user and enable them to share data that they wish to — even when the user represents an organization.
Entity data (explicit)
Zero-party entity data refers to data individuals share about themselves or their organization to help brands offer personalized content and experiences.
This includes preferences, professional info, and demographics — essentially anything other than personally identifiable information (PII).
Adopting the following is table stakes for both B2B and B2C brands that are serious about personalization:
An onboarding survey asking new users what they intend to use the product for or what their goals are, as well as professional (B2B) and personal (B2C) info
An email preference center where users can choose the types of emails they’d like to subscribe to (blog, product updates, surveys, offers, etc), specify a delivery cadence (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly), and even pause their subscriptions (for say 30 or 60 days)
These are the easiest tools to collect zero-party entity data since users generally understand that brands need this data to offer a better, tailored experience. Users are more open to sharing this data as they also understand that not doing so results in a less-personalized experience for them.
It’s also useful to keep in mind that part of the data that’s anonymized and made available by advertisers for ad targeting falls under entity data that individuals share explicitly.
In fact, in its early days, Facebook was all about gathering zero-party data from its users to better understand their likes and dislikes. Similarly, by searching for answers on Google, we’re essentially letting Google know what we’re looking for and providing fuel for its advertising machine.
I believe the day isn’t far when brands of all sizes make it dead simple for individuals to tell them what they’re looking for. As a result, the buyer gets exactly what they want and brands get more accurate data — a win-win scenario that makes everyone’s life easier.
Identity data (explicit)
Brands collect personally identifiable information like name and email explicitly when they ask users to input this data before giving them access to a product or service.
Additional PII data like mailing address or phone number are collected at future touchpoints to either complete a transaction or conduct a verification.
Here are a couple of things worth keeping in mind pertaining to zero-party identity data:
Data points like name and email fetched using enrichment tools fall under first-party identity data instead of zero-party data
Brands often combine zero-party and first-party identity data (IP address, device ID, etc) for the purpose of identity resolution
Summary and what’s next
Here’s a summary of the subtypes of zero-party data:
Zero-party identity data enables brands to identify individuals and build identity resolution algorithms
Zero-party entity data enables brands to deliver tailored content and build personalized experiences
While first-party data has cemented its position as a prerequisite for brands that are serious about using data to their advantage or to deliver tailored experiences, zero-party data is still in its infancy.
That said, zero-party data also presents an opportunity for brands to build and nurture better relationships with their audiences. And since there are only so many brands an individual would want to build relationships with, a well-executed zero-party data strategy can become a huge moat for brands.
The next issue covers the primary use cases for zero-party data, check it out.