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What is Zero Party Data Anyway?

Ashley Wucher
September 20, 2021

You’ve probably heard something recently about “zero party data” (ZPD). The term is everywhere in the marketing and tech world, and it’s showing no sign of going away anytime soon thanks to increased consumer awareness of online privacy and some big tech privacy changes in recent years, like the anticipated release of Apple iOS 15 later this month.  

But, what exactly is zero party data? Is it just another buzzword? Is it just another word for first-party data (FPD)? Why should we care about ZPD?

Ok, I’ll admit that it sounds buzzword-ey, but at its core it’s something your members care about...a lot. That’s because ZPD is all about two things: privacy and value.

The term was coined by Forrester, and it’s the data which a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It can include preference center data, purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize them.

Unlike FPD, marketers don’t own ZPD. Instead, consumers grant you the right to use their ZPD for the purpose of a particular intent or exchange. FPD is the data you collect and then analyze so that you can infer intent for a broader population, whereas ZPD is the data you collect by asking someone what they want and then using it specifically for that person.

Collecting ZPD solicits a direct interaction from your members. And with more associations looking for ways to engage members, it only makes sense to rely on ZPD. At PropFuel, we’ve been talking about ZPD from the start, and we capture it through our ASK-CAPTURE-ACT process. Ask your members a question, capture their response and then act on it.

But, you’re not getting something for nothing with ZPD. Members give you their data expecting that you will provide value in return...and usually that means delivering value right away. Take a new member onboarding campaign in PropFuel, for example. You ask your new member, “Why did you join our association?” Your member answers your question, not because they want to make sure your AMS data is accurate or complete, but because they expect that their five minute investment means a more tailored experience for them. In PropFuel, that tailored experience comes from the workflows you’ve set up that push relevant information to your member based on what they’ve told you they need.  

I think the benefits of relying on ZPD are countless, but because our blog posts have a word limit, I’ll leave you with the four main benefits of relying on ZPD, as I see them:

  • It’s accurate since it comes directly from the source—your member.
  • It’s relevant and tells companies how they want to be interacted with.
  • It’s cost-effective since your members give it to you; it doesn’t have to be paid for.
  • It’s compliant with changing data protection regulation since you know exactly where the data came from.
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