What is Personally Identifiable Information?

Personally Identifiable Information (otherwise known as PII) stands for personal information of each user which is subject to advertising. It’s data that can be used to uniquely identify, contact, and distinguish consumers.

When advertising first gained popularity, Personally Identifiable Information was only comprised of someone’s full name, address and phone number. However, with technology advancing, policymakers implemented broader definitions which include IP addresses, cookie IDs and mobile IDs.

Marketers and advertisers are generally allowed to collect Personally Identifiable Information from users, as long as they have their permission. However, the regulatory process is long, so non-Personally Identifiable Information like cookie data is used for targeting and personalization instead. Examples of non-Personally Identifiable Information handled in advertising include: device ID, device type, cookie data (visited sites and how consumers used them), browser type and plug-in information, referring site, date and time, local time zone, language preference, and others.

Additionally, marketers can also anonymize sensitive information such as email addresses by turning it into random numerical combinations.

The use of cookies allows advertisers to create audience segments without handling any personally identifiable information, and focus only on the buyer intent.