Here’s how LiveRamp enables more personalized advertising:
Big Woods, an outdoor gear company, wants to show ads to current and previous customers. Jane bought a sleeping bag from Big Woods last year, and, at the time of purchase, she provided her email address, among other personal information. Now, Big Woods would like to show online ads to Jane about tents to pair with her sleeping bag. To do this, Big Woods sends LiveRamp a list of emails of sleeping bag purchasers, including Jane’s: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Protecting Jane’s data:
To protect Jane’s privacy, LiveRamp works with its partners to ensure that Jane’s personal information, in this case, her email, is not shared in its human-readable form. When we receive Jane’s personal information, if it isn’t already, we transform and mask it via a process called hashing and salting, techniques commonly used by companies to protect data.
Hashing works by taking plain text, i.e. email@example.com, and, using a formula called a hash function, transforms it into a string of numbers and letters.
Salting works by adding additional characters onto the end of whatever you’re about to hash. This changes the resulting hash and acts as another layer of protection.
How LiveRamp recognizes Jane:
When Jane provides her email to a website with which LiveRamp partners, that partner places a cookie—a small piece of code used by sites for purposes such as data collection or analysis—when Jane signs up or logs in, then hashes Jane’s email and sends it to LiveRamp. This allows LiveRamp to create a list of known consumers based on hashed and salted emails from its partners. When Jane visits the site in the future, LiveRamp uses the cookie, which contains Jane’s hashed and salted protected information, to recognize her instead of using firstname.lastname@example.org.
How LiveRamp connects Big Woods to Jane:
When Big Woods sends its own list of hashed emails of sleeping bag purchasers to LiveRamp, LiveRamp will attempt to match their hashed and salted emails to the created list through our partners. If we are able to do so, the cookie that our partner placed can now act as a connection point to enable personalized advertising.
In short, by using techniques like hashing and salting to transform and mask human-readable personal information, LiveRamp enables marketers to deliver personalized experiences while protecting consumer privacy.