Frequently Ask Questions

Does the audience sharing concept expose my customers to my competitors’ marketing messages?

Each company in the network will have the ability to establish or block audience exchanges with any other companies in the network. Given our explicit membership criteria, we believe that most member companies will share similar values, but we recognize that some may not want to enable exchanges with direct competitors.

What is a cooperative database?

Originally a resource for the catalog and direct mail business, participants in a cooperative database contribute their customer data to a massive database managed by a third party. Cooperative databases have been phenomenally effective and efficient customer acquisition tools for direct mail marketers.

In digital media, privacy issues present a challenge to the creation of similar databases with personally identifiable information (PII). Nevertheless, the legitimate use of second-party and third-party data achieves similar, highly profitable results without using PII. We can market to consumers with very specific sustainable interests and behaviors, and real-time interest in the category, even though we don’t know their names, addresses, or other PII.

What is a second-party data network?

There are three kinds of customer data. Whereas first-party data is the information a company has on its own customers, and third-party data is aggregated from many sources, second-party data is a newer and less well understood form of consumer data. We see tons of potential in using it for collaborative marketing to environmentally and socially minded consumers.

Second-party data is the first-party data of business partners who have explicitly agreed to share that information. With the right partners and technology, second-party data can be used to identify highly targeted prospects for the right brands. Companies that sell to environmentally and socially conscious consumers are reaching an audience that is proven to be interested in these values. This form of targeted advertising can have much the same relevance and currency as first-party data, meaning that it can be a highly cost-effective form of paid advertising - like retargeting and search marketing.

Creating second-party relationships one by one is time-consuming. A company could not support many of them without a serious commitment of time and resources. That's why a network, such as the one we are developing, is important. By carefully selecting partners whose audiences have similar values and interests, the network can offer its members advertising that has the impact of their own first-party data, but on a vastly larger scale. 

Second-party data-driven marketing is one, but by no means the only, channel we plan to make use of through our collaborative marketing network. As our network grows, it will enable our members to reach increasingly large numbers of highly qualified, conscious consumers.

Do the network’s plans raise any customer privacy issues?

No. At no point will the network have access to the personally identifiable information of its members’ customers. We will be able to infer a consumer’s interests from their behavior on member websites (using tags placed in their browser), but we will have no information about their name, address, demographics, and so on. Each participant’s website privacy policy must provide adequate scope to allow targeting ads to website visitors within the second-party network, but your policy may already be adequate, particularly if it provides for your own ad retargeting activities.

Will the second-party data network require technical work on participants’ websites?

A line of code, much like the one your website already uses to enable Google Analytics, retargeting, and other common practices, will need to be placed into the website code once. That’s all.