PII and Digital Marketing: Why Marketers Should Become PII Compliant

When visitors to a brand’s website or online platforms share their personal information with businesses, they are entrusting them with highly sensitive data. These visitors are trusting you to keep their data protected from cybercriminals and hackers, and they are trusting you to use their data for legitimate, legal and reputable purposes.

Many organizations understand this unspoken trust agreement, but not all businesses are scrupulous to begin with. Constant data leaks and scandals have led governments across the globe to pass data protection laws that give people more control over their personally identifiable information (PII). 

European GDPR regulations are currently pioneering the field of online data security by laying out strict laws to govern the way that personal information is handled. It’s expected that by 2023, more than 65% of the world’s people and their data will be similarly protected in a legal sense, according to Gartner.

What Exactly Is Personally Identifiable Information?

The first step to becoming compliant with PII as a digital marketer is to understand how to identify and class personally identifiable information.

This can be challenging, as definitions of PII often vary by region. Some personally identifiable information, like names, addresses, phone numbers, and identification numbers, are obvious to identify as PII. However, many jurisdictional laws reach further. CCPA, California’s new privacy act, defines PII as including elements such as biometrics, geo-location data, IP addresses, network logs, and account numbers.

Instead of focusing on the specifics of PII, it may be simpler to grasp the gist of most privacy laws and work from there. Essentially, PII is universally defined as any information that can be used alone or along with other data to identify an individual. Conversely, any element of data that cannot be linked to a specific individual is not PII.

How to Use PII for Marketing Efforts

In most cases, there are no laws that prevent companies and their digital marketing agencies from collecting and using PII for online marketing and advertising. However, it’s important to understand that most companies do not use PII for advertising purposes.

The reason why advertising firms don’t use PII and marketing firms do is because in order to launch a digital display advertising campaign and optimize SEO efforts, advertisers will need to share user data with third parties. This means that they would need to obtain consent before any consumers could view a page containing ads, which is an understandable hindrance.

Marketing segmentation for digital marketers allows for the use of PII for digital campaigns because personal data does not need to be shared with ad networks and exchanges to achieve this. 

What Does the Future Hold for PII Compliance?

Countries around the world already have stringent privacy laws in place or are currently developing them. Many countries, for example in Europe, may adhere to a wider bill like GDPR, but then add further national conditions to their data processing privacy laws as well.

It’s expected that we will see two new trends emerging in data privacy legislation in the near future.

How Digital Marketers Can Remain Compliant

It is nearly impossible to predict future changes in regional compliance laws. Many of these changes will rely on unpredictable factors like the results of elections and the efforts of digital privacy campaigns.

However, you can still remain compliant to the best of your ability while designing digital marketing campaigns for your clients by:

The Bottom Line

Digital marketers will find themselves working with a wide range of personally identifiable information while crafting effective marketing campaigns for their clients. This is why it is essential for every digital marketer to adhere to PII compliance regulations. 

PII best practices like giving people control over their data and not storing it longer than necessary will help to ensure that your clients can retain the trust of their customers and remain aligned with new data privacy laws like the GDPR.

Rae Oliver is a freelance content creator. Her published work covers a vast range of topics, from SaaS to lifestyle and fitness. Like many other 20-something professional digital nomads, she has a passion for travel, social media, and digital marketing.

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