Limited PII is here
Truthfully, we didn’t intend to emphasize privacy so strongly these past couple of weeks.
But there’s an undeniable reckoning happening in real-time.
Suddenly, many of the topics we’ve been writing about here week after week are being magnified on a global stage.
We saw multiple regulatory bodies come down hard on cookie loopholes. IAB members are at a crossroads about how to balance privacy with next-gen targeting and measurement. In private conversations, major ad firms are coming around to the idea that PII is the most viable path forward.
Then, at AdExchanger’s Industry Preview, we saw a really thoughtful, forward-looking slide presented by McKinsey & Company conveying its perspective on the evolution of marketing measurement.
When I saw the slide, I was immediately drawn into a headline touting “privacy-centric marketing” and a key enabling tool being “new sources of insight and data to measure with limited PII.”
On this blog, you’ve seen us talk about it as “little PII” or “non-sensitive PII.” But actually, I think “limited PII” is a description that works better as it can be easily understood by consumers and marketers alike. Basically, it’s the simple stuff like name, address, and email. It is expressly not any type of data that can cause damage if it falls into the wrong hands (i.e., SSNs, credit card info, etc.).
In McKinsey’s view, a new approach built atop limited PII will see aggregated and anonymized data collection undergirding a new measurement approach reliant upon simulation and testing.
This is an approach for which BRIDGE has advocated for years and we are pleased to finally see the broader industry take note of the vast potential that exists in a PII-based approach. In our estimation, it most elegantly balances the need for next-gen targeting and measurement with privacy norms we believe are changing for the better.
We think advertising approaches based on limited PII are most effective when they are rooted in respect for the consumer as people.
For us, that means a few important things:
- Ethics are paramount. We won’t market products that don’t align with our own ethos for responsible marketing. Things like predatory lending or payday loans. Tobacco. Anything that can cause personal harm is a non-starter for us.
- Double verifying we are marketing to adults. We leverage redundant verification across multiple sources to ensure we are never marketing to minors. If we can’t verify that a record in our audience belongs to an adult, we suppress it until we do. This has always been the right thing to do. Now, it’s the legal thing to do as more and more state attorney generals adopt laws similar to Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)-rules.
- Make privacy terms available and clear. Cookie banners landed in hot water because they began hiding privacy terms behind tiny banners that consumers began mindlessly clicking “accept” on. We only include people in our audience after they’ve given “informed consent” and have had an opportunity to read and agree to very clear privacy language.
It’s becoming clearer than ever that “limited PII” is not just the future of advertising, but the now.
We’ve been at this many years and remain committed to helping our clients and industry stakeholders understand, navigate and thrive in this evolving environment.