post image February 7, 2022 | 3 min Read

Zero-Party Data: A Privacy Red Herring?

Zero-Party Data is a buzzword that has been thoroughly embraced by marketing companies in a post-cookie world. It’s defined as any data that a consumer voluntarily provides to you directly, as opposed to third-party data, which is usually collected through tracking techniques and secrecy. Zero-Party Data helps marketers provide a personalized experience without the use of tracking cookies.

It’s a hot topic with strict privacy legislation being implemented globally, and even more so with Apple making it easy for users to opt out of data tracking in iOS. Consumers now care about privacy, and there are serious risk and issues for marketers that do not comply with legislation or abuse the data that is collected. Some claim that because data is coming directly from consumers, it provides strong privacy protection. But does it really?

Zero-Party Data is generally collected from consumers without understanding the context as to why the data is required and how it is going to be used by the collector. Most Zero-Party Data is collected ‘en-masse’ from users through surveys, forms, or quizzes – allowing marketers to build and maintain a profile based on the data directly provided by the customer.

This presents a couple of new challenges for both the consumer and the marketer:

First – it doesn’t take away any of the risks associated with collecting and storing Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Zero-Party Data can be PII – in fact, many identity marketing companies collect extremely sensitive, risky personal data like full name, birth date, login credentials, and even social security number information! Some identity marketing companies require this information to be provided before even completing the service, forcing the consumer to comply even if they are uncomfortable with the risk. In a lot of jurisdictions there is still no obligation to explain how and why this data is being used or who they are sharing it with (even though they had to provide it to get access to a service). Plus, the marketer and vendors using the sensitive data still have all the risks associated with storing and processing it.

Second – what ensures the accuracy of data provided by the consumer? If there is no context for the provision of this data, and no checks and balances as to what data is being provided, accuracy is not a given. Instead, important data (like those used to ensure someone is qualified for a gated offer) should come through trusted sources instead of being personally provided.

It is possible to verify people for these gated offers without relying on inaccurate data volunteered by the consumer in a way that provides privacy, does not require PII, and reduces risk for all.’s privacy-by-design identity verification services leverages single sign-on (SSO) and direct integrations with thousands of identity providers to verify consumers. Our integrations with these ‘sole sources of truth’ – in academia these would be the colleges and universities themselves – are able to tell who is eligible and who isn’t in a privacy preserving way that’s less intrusive to the end user, more secure, and faster. There are no accounts to create or unnecessary steps or information collected. It’s proven to increase conversion rates, reduce shopping cart abandonment, and significantly decrease the risk associated with data collection and potential leaks.

Zero-Party Data is a marketing red-herring when it comes to privacy and identity. Contact us today to learn more about how to promote to communities and verify users in a fast, frictionless, secure, and privacy-preserving way.