Harnessing Influencer Marketing to Capture First-Party Data

Bill Skelly

Data, Marketing, CMO Alliance

July 24, 2023

Harnessing Influencer Marketing to Capture First-Party Data

This was first published in CMO Alliance.

Influencer Marketing continues to be an important strategy for brands and organizations – beyond fashion, food and beauty industries. Even high-tech companies, manufacturing and business to business firms are inviting celebrities, athletes and so-called “rock star” leaders with a large fan base to persuade people to buy their products and services.

Celebrity endorsements are not a new marketing approach. But today’s consumers prefer authentic testimonials and social media plays a vital role.

The issue is that the Influencers’ social media followers are not first-party data assets. Unless Influencers are collecting email addresses and other info, they can’t contact their fans outside the social media platform.

Another concern is that social channels regularly update algorithms. When major changes are made to social media profiles and followers – such as the recent disruptions at Twitter – Influencers must hope their communities will continue to engage with them.

Prioritizing First-Party Data

To complicate matters, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) give consumers more control over the personal information that businesses collect about them. In 2023, additional states’ consumer privacy and data protection acts go into effect, including Connecticut, Colorado, Utah and Virginia.[1]

Marketers must be more cautious before purchasing third-party data, working only with reputable companies.

Now more than ever, the information organizations collect about their own customers is valuable data. First-party data is about to become a new currency in advertising and marketing.

Collecting Data to Customize Marketing

People are willing to provide Personally Identifiable Information (PII) if brands provide more customized, relevant communications and offers.

Ideas for collecting first-party data include:

  1. Email nurture campaigns and subscription eNewsletters.
  2. User, product and warranty registrations.
  3. Surveys and polls.
  4. Contests and sweepstakes.
  5. Single sign-on, allowing users to sign-in with their Google or Facebook accounts.

Retail Media Networks

A Retail Media Network is another platform to capture PII. Retail Media Networks are retail-owned digital platforms used to communicate with their customers. They include the retailers’ websites, apps, loyalty programs, social media, banner ads and more.

With retail media networks, marketers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies can connect to the retailer’s customers. Advertisers gain access to the retailer’s first-party data, including purchases made at the point-of-sale, that boost target marketing and more personalized messages. Through the retail media network, marketers use of first-party data is a privacy-compliant replacement for third-party cookies.

The world’s leading brands have launched their own retail media networks, including Walmart, Kroger, Home Depot and Marriott. McKinsey forecasts ad spending in retail media networks to grow from $45 billion in 2022 to $100+ billion by 2026.[2]

Dollar General recently announced the “Dollar General Media Network,” will leverage the data collected from the Dollar General Rewards loyalty program to close the digital gap for brands wanting to establish and deepen relationships with rural communities, providing opportunities for safe, secure data collaboration through LiveRamp and enabling more meaningful customer experiences, in-store and online.[3]

Brands Paying to Reach Consumers

An online audience in a data marketplace could collect an advertising fee of $2.50 per 1000 impressions or a streaming video placement of 15% of the total placed budget. While those values are oftentimes split with the hosting service, marketing campaigns are now placing billions of impressions to drive a message and those numbers can quickly raise the value of the list.

For example, if an advertiser wants to deliver one million impressions to a targeted list of Latino beauty product consumers, they would be willing to pay for an audience list managed by Jennifer Lopez’s firm.

It’s a similar scenario if an advertiser needs to reach rural American consumers about their product. Dollar General has proven that these companies are willing to pay a premium to reach a curated, known audience of these exact consumers.

There is no “easy button” or simple solution that converts this online data to offline audiences. The transition from online to offline audiences requires creativity and organic content geared towards this migration.

Fresh Ideas for First-Party Data

This is an emerging new concept for advertising. What can be started with the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Dwayne Johnson could then be scaled across almost any enterprise or individual with a massive following on a single platform. This includes college athletes seeking financial compensation for NIL (Name, Image, Likeness), emerging actors or celebrities, along with professional athletes who can monetize their fame after retirement.

Step 1: Run sweepstakes to entice consumers to share their information in exchange for an entry into a contest. Or launch a campaign offering exclusive content, a Delola gift package, a sought-after beauty product, an exclusive “members only” newsletter, a ticket to an XFL game, or merchandise signed by The Rock. The contest approach drives engagement and offers a potential reward for providing information.

Step 2: Once the PII is collected, engage a data analytics partner with access to a digital marketplace and programmatic placement capabilities. The existence of the list and the segmentation of the audiences will be publicly advertised or distributed using traditional releases or list broker services.

Step 3: Step 3: A CPM (cost per thousand) fee will be placed on the data. In certain situations, restrictions may be applied requiring use of a specific placement service to prevent “abuse” of the list.

Many celebrity assets have cultivated incredibly passionate followers which, when appropriately collected, could create highly profitable, curated, segmented, and personalized audience sets of hard-to-reach consumer populations that brands are dying to activate.

At present, these communities of raving fans remain an untapped resource of potential opted-in first party data. There’s an opportunity for enterprising brands and organizations to partner with data consultants and make a mark in the future of advertising services.

William Skelly is CEO of Causeway Solutions, a leading provider of Acquisition Analytics and innovative data services. Bill serves as advisor with some of the nation’s most influential organizations—from grassroots public affairs efforts to U.S. Presidential campaign strategies. Causeway Solutions empowers clients to make smart, timely, data-driven decisions through real-time consumer insights to better reach target audiences.


[1]: “Start Preparing for New State Privacy Laws That Take Effect in 2023”
[2]: “Retail Media Networks Are The Next Big Advertising Channel”
[3]: "LiveRamp and DG Media Network Unlock Access to Millions of Rural Consumers for CPG Advertisers"