If you’ve ever had a Google AdSense, Ad Ex, or DFP account then it’s possible you’ve received an email regarding “PII” or “Personally Identifiable Information.” Please note that this notice should not be ignored and it is specific to your Google accounts and your sites and unrelated to Monumetric. If you’ve ever received this resolution message or any other message regarding PII from Google, we’re here to help you. Simply let your account manager know that you’ve received a message to begin the resolution process. Now let’s get to the heart of what PII is and how to fix it!
What is Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?
Some websites are violating Google’s terms and conditions without even knowing it. PII is getting passed through the Google ads on their websites. This is something that Google takes very seriously and they’ve asked us to help audit our network before March 4th, 2015.
How does a PII breach happen?
We’ve done some investigating and it appears that most of these issues have been coming from subscriber plugins/tools . *gasp!*
It’s usually either….Subscription Widgets
Sometimes, when a reader subscribes to your blog by entering their email address, the subscription URL is redirected to a new URL that typically looks something like this:
This URL contains the subscriber’s email address which is “Personally Identifiable Information.”
The ads on your site often track the URL where they are displayed so that advertisers know what URL’s their ads are appearing on. If there is an email address contained in the URL it is also passed to the advertisers — which against Google’s policies and privacy policies. It’s actually a really big deal and can be detrimental from the trust of your readers who don’t know their personal email addresses are getting passed to advertisers all over the world.
Or it could be…..Email Confirmation Links
This problem can occur when subscriber management tools send a confirmation email to the new subscriber and prompt them to click on a link to confirm their email address — that link may have their email address in the URL (just like the above example).
Why should I do something?
In order to protect your reader’s privacy and to continue using any of Google’s Advertising Services, these issues need to be resolved. Failure to do so can result in being Blacklisted from all of Google’s Advertising Services. If this issue isn’t resolved for sites in Monumetric, we will have to pause all Google from filling any ads on your site!
How Can I See If I’m Passing PII?
- If you use a subscriber tool, email management system, or require readers to enter their email address to access any part of your website.
- Test the subscription process yourself.
- If at any point, you get redirected to a URL that contains any part of your email address then your website is passing PII.
- If you don’t see your email address in your URL then your site is most likely unaffected. Congrats!
How do I fix a PII issue?
- Notify your account manager here at Monumetric and we’ll help you resolve the issue!
- Go into your subscription tool/plugin and go to the settings section. Many subscriber tools will let you turn off the redirect option in the plugin or tool’s settings.
- Reach out to the subscriber tool company/developer and ask them to help you change the email address in the redirect URL to a unique identifier. (for example, the new URL direct would look like this:http://exampleblog.com/subscriber-email/?email=4567321
- If the company/developer can’t offer any assistance, migrate your subscriber list over to a new tool.
This is a very common problem with subscription tools/plugins so please make sure you check for signs of a PII breach as soon as possible! It’s a lot easier to get blacklisted by Google than to get off that blacklist, so 5 minutes of checking to see if you are passing PII could save you weeks worth of hassle.