pii way or highway
Is your data supply chain futureproof?
Five musts for setting an ethical, enduring data strategy

The tumbleweeds aren’t rolling through yet, but the days of Wild West-style approaches to digital advertising are numbered.

What started as a gold rush ultimately turned into a race to the bottom. There was no shortage of data, no matter how impure. And plenty of takers looking for volumes of targets on the cheap.

So what if they were buying the equivalent of fool’s gold? It was almost so inexpensive, it didn’t matter.

But that’s when the wheels started coming off the wagon.

Unnecessary middleware companies began extracting significant revenues without providing any real value – as much as 40 – 60%, according to the ANA

Stakeholders played fast and loose with privacy.

Once state and local regulators started taking a harder stance against egregious practices, the writing was on the wall for the whole industry.

The path forward? Well, it’s super muddy. At least for those clinging to the past. (We’ll cover the various post-cookie approaches being pursued in a future post.)

Today, I want to focus on data. Because no matter the strategy, it will be data that drives it.

For years, the ad biz had a tendency to look the other way when it came to how data was collected. An untold number of data players mined scraped and skirted their way to outsized troves of audience profiles and personas.

That will not fly in the future. With more regulation, oversight, and scrutiny looming, every advertiser will be on the hook for ensuring the data they use is clean and ethically sourced. Misstep and the foundation upon which they pursue the future could instantly crumble as the winds of change continue to sweep through.


It’s actually quite simple when you think about it. A strong foundation provides stability. That is what every advertiser craves as they plan sustainable, lasting ad strategies. Personally identifiable information (PII) is proving to deliver on this front because it’s transparent, tied to real people, and stands up to increasing scrutiny.

Will your data strategy stand up to this scrutiny? Here are five hallmarks of what BRIDGE believes to be an enduring data approach:

  • A PII-based data set that is accurate, timely, and complete. Data strategies of the future will be built on people, not personas. And advertisers must have data sets that account for changes in behavior, location, communication preferences, and more to ensure accuracy and targeting effectiveness.
  • Based on a full database of marketable adults. There are about 250M marketable adults in the U.S., and as many as 98% have given permission to receive ads via informed consent. To be clear, that doesn’t mean permission was given once, two years ago. The onus is on data providers to consistently go through the reconsent process. If the data sets you rely on do not have the ability to legally market to people, it already falls short.
  • No broken links. Identity graphs with broken links are a dime a dozen in this business. People are arbitrarily linked together, have incorrect attributes assigned to them, are missing contact information – the list goes on. The identity graphs you rely on to effectively target ads must always be mapped back to one singular person with a viable email associated with the profile.
  • Secure, secure, secure. Every day, we see the dangers of vulnerable networks. PII data keepers must be hyper-diligent. Data must be encrypted in motion and at rest while always following necessary security protocols to prevent against misuse or unauthorized access.
  • Doesn’t invade privacy. Things like tracking location and store visits or other forms of snooping should never be used to serve ads. Same goes with sensitive personal information like health data, social security info, and credit cards. Consumers have a right to privacy and crossing the line to make a sale will never be OK.

Sounds easy, right? So why doesn’t everyone just take this approach?

Well, it requires shifting perspective from the era of cheap, fast, and anything flies.

Yes, pursuing an enduring, PII-based strategy is more costly. But it’s also more cost-effective – with better targeting, better analytics, and more flexibility in how audiences are marketed to. Not to mention it completely cuts out all the unnecessary middleware players.

Does the ad strategy your planning stack up? Contact us to find out.

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