Set-Top Box Lexicon: Anonymization

CIMM is taking a pro-active role in advancing new media nomenclature and processes with both its Lexicon(terms and definitions associated with Set-Top Box data measurement) and Asset Identification Primer (glossary of asset terms). These documents form this column, which offers a common language for Set-Top Box nomenclature that can expedite the rollout of the data for its many industry applications.

A way to insure privacy for viewers and consumers is to “anonymize” the data points so subscriber information cannot be linked back to a specific house, box or person.  When we say “anonymization,” what do we really mean? Let’s examine some terms and definitions associated with anonymization:


See also: Hashed ID, De-Identify

CIMM DEFINITION : A series of systems, processes and controls that remove personally identifiable data components from a data set,  thereby eliminating or reducing the likelihood that certain characteristics or attributes, whether by themselves or in combination with other information, can be mapped to specific identifiable individuals.

NOTE – “Hashing and anonymization are not synonyms. Hashing is a form of anonymization which sometimes prevents tracking the same household from one day to the next, hence not providing reach/frequency metrics. Anonymization can be achieved with persistent anonymous ID codes where reach/frequency metrics are still available.” (Source: TRA)

Anonymization Tier

See also: Anonymization

CIMM DEFINITION :  In the process of collecting, decoding, aggregating, processing and reporting STB measurements, data may pass through multiple processing points, each of which may enforce a different level of anonymity and network access. For example, within a cable back-end a mapping between STB MAC address and subscriber information must be available for billing purposes, but network access at this level is severely restricted. This represents a low-level tier of anonymization. A processing point in a higher anonymization tier may have wider network access, but MAC address may be replaced by a unique but anonymous identifier, while billing information may be replaced by ZIP+4 or the like, providing greater anonymity. (Source: FourthWall Media)

Please refer to the CIMM Lexicon online at for additional information on these and other terms.

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