Defining PII: A Moving Target

lizziekomar“Marketer’s Note” is a regular column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. This week it is written by Lizzie Komar, Associate Analyst, AdExchanger Research.  

Over the past few weeks, I began conducting research for my upcoming report,  “Defining PII,” a title that is proving overly simplistic, perhaps, as PII (or personally identifiable information) is a complex and unwieldy concept, for the definition of PII is ever-evolving in the face of new technologies and consumer data streams.

It’s impossible to research PII without immersing oneself completely in the study of “privacy.” Even more evolutionary and contextually dependent is the idea of privacy, that which gives us control over what information we share and with whom we share it. And in today’s world of uber-connectivity, privacy has never been more important.

I spoke to a privacy product manager at a large technology company who viewed privacy not only as a competitive advantage, but as the competitive advantage for marketers.“ He said:

“The companies that win in the long term will be the ones that consumers trust the most with their personal information, and as privacy is the basis of trust, determining what privacy means to consumers and adhering to that in all practices, products, and communications is of tantamount importance.”

You can’t mention “privacy” without someone rolling her eyes and anticipating a primer on the legislative tomes that govern it across the globe. That’s the wrong attitude. As companies grow, whether organically or through acquisition, and new services continue to emerge that bring business closer and closer to the individual, privacy must be thought of as the springboard for opportunity, not a dark cloud telling companies what they can and cannot do. Your customers will feel more comfortable interacting with you on more touch points if they believe you both respect their boundaries and their needs. Determining what privacy means to your customers is crucial for this to work.

Stay tuned for much more on this subject in the coming weeks and months.  And in the meantime, we’d love to hear from you: thoughts, comments on what “PII” means within the context of your business, and how you think about “privacy” are welcome!


Follow Lizzie Komar (@lizziekomar) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter. 

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