Hack your paid media performance with first-party data

Tips and tricks for maximizing ROAS

As marketers, we know that advertising dollars don’t grow on trees. That’s why when it comes to paid media, we want to make every penny count. But how can we ensure that our campaigns are hitting the mark? The answer lies in data.

Data is the lifeblood of paid media. It tells us who our audience is, what they want, and how they’re interacting with our ads. By harnessing the power of data, we can create campaigns that are not only effective but also cost-efficient.

So, how can you use data to take your paid media to the next level? Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started:

Double down on data…but carefully

With the elimination of third-party cookies on the horizon, and the Apple privacy crackdown of data, marketers are increasingly trying to improve their paid media efforts and expand their reach through different channels and targeting methods. Now is the time to lean into first and zero-party data to leverage your data to create your audiences through a variety of end channels.

“Third-party data deprecation is only going to continue,” says Ben Dutter, SVP of Strategy at Power Digital. “After cookies, it’ll be IP. After IP, it’ll be unified identifiers. The only reliable way forward is to create enough value in the data exchange that the end user volunteers their data over to the business.”

But in the complex world of data, without the tools or resources to access, aggregate, analyze, and organize your customers’ data, creating lookalike, suppression, and retargeting models with real-time data becomes impossible.

Here are some common mistakes and pitfalls to watch out for:

  • Most marketers manually upload CSVs with customer data to create lookalike and suppression audiences to each individual ad channel. By doing this manually, the customer data is immediately out of date and you need to continuously upload CSVs to update the customer list with new data.
  • CSV files have limited overall customer data because they are being pulled from siloed sources (i.e., Shopify website, email engagement, SMS, etc.). And combining this information requires additional resources to combine the data into a usable CSV. This can take days. 
  • When suppressing ads, marketers will cast the net too wide. For instance, your first instinct may be to hide all ads from recent purchasers,  but you could use ads to cross-sell or up-sell other products. Someone who recently bought a mattress shouldn’t be excluded from bedding ads.

Unleashing the power of customer data platforms for paid media success

“The better a business understands it’s customer, the better it’s able to make smart marketing decisions,” says Dutter. “Building a valuable data exchange between the customer and the business means that those decisions have to benefit the customer in some way – better experience, better targeting, better recommendations, etc.”

A Customer Data Platform (CDP) can remove the friction between data and media deployments, enabling that link between better data and customer experience. Simon Data is built on Snowflake’s cloud data warehouse, enabling real-time activation of the most up-to-date data from every source, effectively eliminating those blocking data silos. This removes the need for manual CSV uploads, easily integrating directly with ad channels to create audiences using Simon’s segmentation tool, then creating a trigger to upload these audiences to paid channels in real-time. 

This feature also automatically removes and re-assigns contacts from audiences as they meet specific criteria. You can use triggered-based actions to develop your audiences (i.e., abandons cart and hasn’t subscribed to any channels, send to FaceBook) within Simon’s orchestration tool and automatically send customer data based on the action criteria. Simon allows you to better understand your customers by segmenting based on LTV, churn propensity, and product recommendations through our Simon Predict ML models.


How to maximize the impact of first-party data

“There’s only two ways to make revenue: more customers or more valuable customers. Integrating first and zero-party data on your customer list is the most reliable way to maximize the value of each customer, purchase, and cohort,” says Dutter. “While paid media is traditionally an acquisition effort, it can also be used to carefully upsell, and message existing or lapsed customers to maximize their LTV.”

Here are some ways Simon Data can help your paid media strategies in all three use cases:


  • Use lookalike models based on activity to help lower customer acquisition costs. For example, add people who recently abandoned a cart or return customers who are likely to purchase higher-cost items.
  • Improve ROAS by suppressing known users from acquisition campaigns. This ensures you’re not wasting your budget on marketing to already-loyal customers and not offering new customer deals and discounts to those who don’t need them.
  • Sometimes, potential customers simply need to learn how others use your product in ways they haven’t considered. Use customer testimonials that show the success of others using your product to spark interest for targeted abandonment and lookalike campaigns to those who have browsed specific pages and items.

Retention or Upsell: 

  • Reward those who reward you. Ask for new customer referrals in exchange for discounts and gifts by encouraging feedback on social media or your website with your highest LTV customers. 
  • Send a push notification for new, popular social posts to drive engagement. Then create lookalike models for people who received and clicked the notification.
  • For customers that made their first purchase, create a lookalike audience, encouraging them to join your loyalty program and get a certain amount of points for signing up in a specific time frame.
  • Send pre-targeted ads to inactive lookalike audiences before you reach out to them via email. This way, once they receive your sales team’s email, they’re already re-acquainted with your product.
  • If you plan to have an event or sponsorship near a specific area, create audiences with that specific location and a sign-up sheet to encourage customers to go.


  • Create segments of lapsed users based on their engagement data and reach out to them via social or owned channels with tailored content, supporting more frequent—and deeper—engagement. Customize these messages with information about each user’s historical activity and purchases to highlight their previous usage.
  • For customers that have left a complaint or written a bad review recently, suppress them from your advertising campaigns and nurture campaigns through their preferred channels with personalized content to win back their trust. 
  • Leverage the user data at your disposal to lure back lapsed users by sending personalized re-engagement messages based on their past engagement. Use owned messaging channels and social advertising to reach them where they’re active, and consider using promotion codes to provide clear value and drive future conversions.

Better customer data = Better customer experiences

The most important thing to remember is that your data is the foundation for all your campaigns. If you’re not using the right segments, sources, and models, it doesn’t matter how much effort and spend you put into your paid media strategies; you’re not going to see the results you want. Tools like CDPs can take the burden off of not only marketing teams but the IT and data teams who support them. By putting accurate customer data at the heart of your strategy, your outcomes will not only be higher revenue results but happier customer experiences. 

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