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April 2, 2018

Denim’s Product Design Philosophy

How Denim leverages anonymized data to enable firms to add value to consumers' lives.

Platform Illustration

At Denim, we take pride in empowering financial services companies to add value to consumers’ lives. At our very core, we’re enabling firms to engage consumers about products they need when they need them the most — renters insurance to the millennial who just moved into her first apartment, life insurance to the couple who just had their first baby, an IRA to someone who just changed jobs. Most importantly, Denim-powered ads are delivered from a local agent or advisor, fostering community.

We know delivering these types of experiences requires data. We also know there’s been a lot of talk across all industries lately about appropriate and inappropriate uses of data as a result of issues involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

It’s true data holds powerful opportunities to improve consumers lives by anticipating their needs and delivering helpful and highly customized experiences. But with great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, in the wrong hands, data can also be used in harmful ways. This is why Denim takes security and privacy issues so seriously.

Denim’s Approach to Data

In September 2017, we announced that we had collected more than 1 billion data points on consumer engagement with ads powered by the Denim platform. All data we collect is aggregated and anonymized. In other words, there is no personally identifiable information (PII) on consumers in any of our data. For example, we know women age 18-24 are more likely to click on financial services-related mobile and social media ads than men age 18-24, but we have no way of knowing who, specifically, those men and women are.

What does this mean for Denim’s customers? They have access to the financial services industry’s most powerful and robust dataset on consumer engagement with mobile and social media ads. This allows them to make smarter marketing decisions based on what will add real value to consumers’ lives — without the security and privacy concerns that come with PII.

For more on using mobile and social media marketing to add value to a consumer’s life, read our December 2017 blog article Why Micro-Targeting With a Consumer-First Mindset Matters.

Denim’s Commitment to Security

At Denim, security is a top priority in everything we build. One of the main reasons we chose to build the Denim platform on IBM Cloud is due to IBM’s history of cybersecurity innovation and its commitment to proactively keeping information safe.

In addition, we have made an intentional decision to not store consumer PII in the Denim platform. We also never share user (i.e., agent or advisor) information with social media platforms, such as Facebook. When interacting with other platforms, we only refer to our users via a computer-generated ID and, therefore, never send PII across the wire.

Denim’s Philosophy in Action

We are currently working on a major enhancement to the Denim platform’s Audiences product to allow Denim managers to upload a list and create various types of audiences. We are intentionally building the product to ensure all PII contained in a list doesn’t touch our servers or the servers of the social media platforms we work with.

Before a list is uploaded to the Denim platform, the Audiences user interface will automatically hash the list locally in the manager’s browser. Hashing protects and secures people’s information by turning the data in a list into numeric codes that can’t be reversed.

The hashed list is then encrypted and transmitted directly into the social media platform’s secure API, bypassing the Denim platform’s APIs and database altogether. Once it’s to the social media platform, the hashed information is matched against the platform’s existing list of users’ hashed IDs, and matches are added to the audience.

It’s not just Audiences — Denim’s product design philosophy, including our approach to data and our commitment to security, carries through to every product and feature we build. For more information, check out our privacy policy. If you have questions, feel free to reach out anytime. We’d love to chat.

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