Zero Party Data vs. First-Party Data

Survive the “Cookie Apocalypse” with better shopper intent data—learn how to start capturing more of it.


In our hyper-online world, the most valuable asset we have is data. 

For any eCommerce company, data is what runs the show. Data provides insights into key customer behaviors — from their demographics and interests to insights into product use. Companies then use this data to power their business — through targeted ads, analyzing consumer trends, and personalized marketing tactics. Everything you see online was informed by consumer data. 

For years, organizations have relied on third-party data — otherwise known as cookies — to inform their targeted campaigns and optimize conversions. However, depending on third-party data presents a number of issues, including handling outdated data and privacy concerns from a consumer perspective. 

To make the matter even stickier, major platforms are beginning to say goodbye to cookie collection. Companies like Apple and Mozilla's Firefox have opted out of third-party data collection for years, and in June 2021, Google announced it would phase out third-party cookies in late 2023 (which has since been pushed back to 2024) with new tracking technology to replace them.

This begs the question — without cookies, how can eCommerce brands function? The answer lies in zero-party and first party data — data collected via information that a customer has volunteered of their own volition.

In 2022, 42% of brands planned to make the shift to zero or first party data collection through the use of personalized product recommendation tools like quizzes.

By capturing this information directly from the customer, brands are more likely to capture and capitalize off of intent data — cues from the customer that tells the brand what they’re likely to buy in the future. Read on to discover the ways that zero-party and first party data collection can help you shift away from cookies for good — and discover the tools you need to help you gather customer intent data. 

Zero party data vs. first party data: what’s the difference?

While both first party data and zero-party data are valuable, highly relevant, and present minimal privacy concerns, there are some key differences to look out for between the two. 

What is zero-party data?

Zero-party data is information that customers voluntarily and explicitly share with organizations.

Organizations can collect this data from various sources, such as website forms, polls, membership applications, and surveys. Although some customers may proactively offer zero-party data for nothing in return, many organizations treat it as a means to access gated content — such as an e-book, webinar, or discount code.

Zero-party data is hugely beneficial because it takes no additional effort to understand consumer preferences, given that the consumer is the one surrendering their information knowingly and intentionally.  

Here are some zero party data collection tactics that you can implement on your site:

  • Quizzes: Gather zero party customer data by creating quizzes they can interact with on your site or social media platforms. Here's a great example from DTC beauty brand Doe Lashes.

  • Account creation: Ask consumers to create an account on your site to give them a more personalized shopping experience — while also giving you access to their zero party data.

  • Contests: Generate buzz for your products on social media by hosting a contest or giveaway, while also collecting consumer data through polls or shares.

  • Social polls: Social shopping is huge why not take advantage of it? Learn more about your consumer base by creating fun pulls for them to interact with as they scroll. 

What is first party data?

First-party data is behavioral information that organizations collect passively as customers interact with their online platforms.

First party data is collected by adding tracking pixels to your online platforms that collect information about consumer behaviors and actions and record it within your CRM or CDP.

While first party data is still a great way to understand consumer behavior and create targeted campaigns, it takes a little more analysis to understand than zero-party data, since it is owned and collected by the organization and not the consumer itself (don’t worry, it still presents minimal privacy concerns!).

Here are some first party data collection tactics that you can implement on your site:

  • Opt-ins: Who doesn’t love a good newsletter or blog? Track opt-ins while you give your customer an opportunity to learn more about your company/industry.

  • Customer reviews: Completed reviews for your products across the web can be linked back to your customer base to help build customer profiles. They can also be linked to inventory management software to uncover how many positive reviews you have based on units sold. 

  • Lead generation forms on your website: Gather interest — and info — from the shoppers who want to learn more about what you have to offer by implementing lead generation forms on your site. These can be contact forms, free quote forms, or a form to request more info.

  • Data tracking tools: Nifty data tracking tools make event-based tracking simple. These tools, like this one from Whym, track consumer behavior and feed their first party data into other systems, like your messaging platform. This helps you paint a clear picture of your consumer behaviors, personalize messaging, and plan inventory for the future. 

Change your retargeting game with zero party & first party data 

Regardless of whether or not your organization is making the shift away from cookies, first and zero party data can help your business thrive in a few key ways.

  • Build brand loyalty and increase conversion with personalized retargeting: 75% of consumers agreed that they prefer to buy from brands that offer personalized digital experiences. By using your first and zero party data, you’re able to offer intentional, personalized ad experiences to customers who have already expressed interest in your product.
  • Capture strategic intent data to predict future demand: Research shows that 70% of shopping carts are abandoned. Why not capitalize off that purchase intent data? With first and zero party data, you get insight into products that shoppers want, even if they haven’t purchased yet, and enhance your internal operations from an inventory perspective — not to mention, you can target those shoppers with discount codes and low-inventory announcements for the products they’re saving for later.

  • Lower cost, increase conversion: Lower your ad spend and see an increase in conversion rates simultaneously by doing away with shot-in-the-dark outreach and using consumer data to inform specific campaigns.

  • Build consumer trust and enhance user experience: No more popups, no more spam — shoppers enjoy highly curated offers and experiences and are more likely to return to your site when they feel the shopping experience has been tailored to their preferences.

Capitalize off of intent data marketing with first party and zero party data tools

There are so many unknowns when it comes to your customer’s eCommerce journey, but there don’t have to be. 

Implementing data tracking tools to capture first and zero party data can help you capitalize off of every impression — even if the customer doesn’t complete the checkout process. How? The answer lies in customer intent. 

By using advanced lead generation tools like Whym, better data is captured earlier in the buyer’s journey, allowing you to target, market and close that first sale with a new customer. You can then use this data to create targeted marketing campaigns that are hyper-specific to your shopper’s experience on your site, encouraging them to come back to purchase the items they may have otherwise forgotten. 

By analyzing purchase intention collected via first and zero party data signals, you’re able to implement strategic segmentation for upsell opportunities based on an individual shopper’s area of interest and forecast inventory demands for the future.

Utilizing these intent-to-buy signals makes selling easier for you while making the shopping experience more personal and engaging for the shopper — a win/win all around. 

Zero party data is the final frontier — are you optimized?

If you find yourself reaching the end of this article wondering whether or not your site is optimized for first and zero party data collection, odds are it isn’t. The good news is that there are tools that can be easily implemented in no time at all to give you access to purchase intent data and ramp up your sales. 

Whym offers a suite of tools, for both seller and shopper, to fill the gaps in your buyer’s journey and inundated you with valuable first and zero party data. Read up on the ways they’ve helped other companies increase conversions by capitalizing on intent-to-buy. 

Whatever strategy you decide to use to optimize your site, one thing is clear: the data-scape if shifting. The only thing you can do is lean in. 


Whym is an intent to buy platform transforming the way we shop and sell online. Brands trust Whym’s tools to capture more first-party data and shopper intent across their selling channels. For shoppers, Whym’s wishlist provides an organized and personalized shopping experience—helping browsers collect, save and rediscover their favorite products anywhere online. No matter how your shoppers find you, Whym makes sure they don’t forget you.

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