The Future of Customer Data: uniting known customers & unknown audiences


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A comprehensive approach to data is necessary for effective, full-funnel marketing and to flourish in the upcoming digital landscape, writes Lotame’s Chris Hogg

Businesses need data now more than ever in order to deliver the best service and experience to their customers. From email addresses and purchase histories to current locations and the last touchpoint used, a vast range of data points can help companies understand who their customers are, where they are, and what they want. 

With third-party cookie deprecation fast approaching, business leaders are looking to first-party data to maintain their relationships with customers. But how can companies effectively collect, manage, and make the most of this data going forward?

What does first-party data bring to the table?

In a nutshell, first-party data is defined as any data that a business has collected directly from their customers, with their consent. This data comes in multiple varieties, such as online and offline, and for an optimal data strategy, businesses must understand which types give them the most value and how to use them. 

As first-party data is collected from direct customer relationships, it is a very reliable source of information, and businesses can use it to deepen their understanding of existing customers and apply learnings to better prospect for new customers. 

Known customers vs unknown audiences

Businesses will have an established customer base of known customers through user activities such as sign-ups to email newsletters, loyalty programmes, purchases or subscriptions. Any customer that has a visitors’ unique identifier, for instance by opting to share their email address with a business, is a known customer. 

Unknown audiences or prospects, refers to the anonymised data about users that businesses do not have a unique identifier for; this could be a visitor to a website who doesn’t conduct a purchase, or a person exposed to or clicking on an ad. These example engagements represent signals about their interests or intent. 

How can businesses understand & engage their complete customer base?

Investing in Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) is a common strategy companies use to bring together siloed data sets and join the dots between known customers’ touchpoints. Although widely varying in features and capabilities, CDPs enable marketers to collect and centralise everything from email engagement to the SKU of products placed in a shopping cart for a single user. 

Alongside this, Data Management Platforms (DMPs) allow businesses to anonymise and aggregate first-party data about unknown user profiles into audiences. This enables marketers to improve campaign strategy and performance, and gain new customers. 

DMPs are a mature technology that many businesses are familiar with, while CDPs are still reaching maturity and are less well-established. These platforms can be integrated to share information and build an enriched view of existing and prospective customers that can be analysed, modelled and activated at scale.

What are the advantages of uniting known customer data & unknown audience data?

Marketers need both known customer data and unknown audience data for full funnel success. First-party data is gold for engaging and retaining existing customers. It’s even more powerful when layered with other high-quality data and modelled for scale. And that’s the magic word for marketers: scale. As first-party data has finite parameters, how do you fill the funnel at the top with new prospects just like your best customers? 

The more a business knows about its customers, the better it can deliver on their expectations regarding personalisation and relevance. This is why it's imperative that companies have strategies in place to both reach existing customers and drive acquisition and prospecting. This makes it crucial for companies to upgrade their first-party data strategies so they can translate unknown audiences into known customers. As a result, they can roll out and optimise marketing campaigns that boost revenue, improve customer loyalty, and expand their audience bases. 

The utopia state is getting closer to the individual, gaining a more comprehensive view of a customer over time and across multiple touchpoints, while maintaining the ability to aggregate anonymous data and target it inside ONE system. Combining the abilities of DMPs and CDPs will enable marketers to improve their connections with existing customers and enhance acquisition strategies without relying on third-party cookies. A comprehensive approach to data is necessary for effective, full-funnel marketing, and to flourish in the upcoming digital landscape. Companies must take action now to build strategies that deliver on present and future business needs. 

By Chris Hogg, Global Head of Platform


Lotame is the world’s leading unstacked data solutions company, helping publishers, marketers and agencies find new customers, increase engagement, and grow revenue through audience data.

Lotame is headquartered in New York City and Columbia MD, with offices around the world, including London, Singapore, Mumbai and Sydney. Learn more at

Posted on: Thursday 10 March 2022