The Power of First-Party Data: Why Live Event Organizers Should Prioritize Their Own Data

Matthew Zarracina
4 min readApr 5, 2023
Photo by Carlos Muza

In today’s highly competitive live events industry, data is an essential asset that can drive impactful and insightful business decisions. To be successful, live event organizers need to better understand their audience, their preferences, and their behaviors in order to create successful and engaging events. While data may be the new oil, not all data is created equal. Today, first-party data represents not only the biggest opportunity for live event organizers to drive significant value to their organizations, it is now more obtainable than before, reducing the value of second- or third-party data sources.

First, let’s define what we mean by first-party data. First-party data is data that is collected directly from the source, which in the case of live event organizers, means data that is collected from their own customers or attendees. By contrast, second-party data is acquired from a trusted partner or vendor, while third-party data is defined as data that is collected by other companies or organizations and then sold to businesses for marketing or other purposes.

It’s Worth More . . . A LOT MORE!

When it comes to gaining greater audience insights, increasing audience lifetime value, or increasing your overall ROI, first-party data is preferred 2x to 4x over second-party data and 8x to 13x over third-party data. Thus, prioritizing the procurement of first-party data needs to be a critical part of your organization’s analysis and marketing efforts. Adjusting your data-gathering efforts to focus on first-party data will likely drive far better and more optimal business results.

For event organizers, it goes even deeper: your focus needs to be on procuring as much first-party data across as many dimensions as possible. Until recently, it was very challenging for live event organizers to know who was actually attending their performances — leaving an incomplete picture of who their audience is. Knowing who comes in your door is the foundation you need to drive more impactful customer engagement and insightful business decisions. That information, coupled with other sources of complementary first-party data such as behavioral data from a website or sales transaction history helps to create a more complete picture of your true audience.

It’s More Accurate Data You Own

First-party data is collected directly from the source, based on the actual behavior and preferences of the attendees. This makes it more reliable and accurate than second- or third-party data, which can be more generalized, outdated information, or wrong.

In addition, you actually own your first party data — meaning you always have direct access to it. Owning the data also gives organizers more flexibility in how they use the data. You can leverage first-party data with your other business systems, such as your point of sales systems, marketing platforms, or social media channels, to create a more seamless and personalized experience for your audience. You can also use the data to make better-informed business decisions around pricing, promotions, or event content.

It’s the Quickest Path to Zero-Party Data

Zero-party data — a term introduced by Forrester Research — describes what can be thought of as a subset of first-party data. This is data you collect directly from your audience about their preferences, interests, and desires. It’s even more accurate, detailed, personal, and valuable than first-party data. Since this information is both intentionally and voluntarily share it with you, zero-party data can be an incredibly powerful tool for your organization. Your customers want you to know this information and they are telling you so that you can better curate the experience for them.

In order to gather zero-party data, you need first- party- data that identifies your true audience. Those contact details are the first step in building a deepened relationship with the people who want you to connect with them. For one True Tickets client, the service’s rules-based ticket sharing feature has resulted in a 2x greater marketing opt-in rate compared to their other engagement channels. That’s 2x more people saying, “Get to know me, please!”

Invest In Your Direct Success

Google, Facebook, and other data providers know the value of data. In fact, data is viewed by many organizations in the entertainment sector as a necessary investment for business success. But if first-party data is significantly more valuable, it’s worth asking yourself, “How much should we be investing in our first party-data capabilities?” Having the ability to collect and access first-party data needs to be a key component of any live event organizer’s broader data-gathering strategy to create more successful and engaging events that meet the needs and preferences of their audiences. In today’s data-driven world, first-party data is a powerful tool that live event organizers can no longer afford to overlook.



Matthew Zarracina

Co-founder & CEO of True Tickets | reader, rower, & former pilot | amateur ball player & guitarist | full-time husband & dad | intellectually curious by nature