Inside Google’s New PAIR Workflow for Advertisers and Publishers


The foundation of digital advertising – i.e. third-party cookies, by the way – is not long for this world, which poses great difficulties for the advertising industry when it comes to acts to activate online advertising campaigns.

In January 2020, the Google Chrome team confirmed that it would align with other web browsers such as Apple Safari by rolling them back, and while there have been several delays in this implementation, it looks like it will happen in 2024.

However, over the next two years, Digiday’s editors’ mailboxes were flooded with PR messages from companies claiming to have found the solution. Notable among that deluge is Google’s Publisher Advertiser Identity Reconciliation (PAIR) news, which came out earlier this week. Read on for a (reasonably) painless explainer.

Ok, so what is PAIR and why is it important?

The death of third-party cookies has led to a rapid increase in the importance of first-party data for marketers if they want to continue running their online advertising campaigns. But as successive recent surveys have noted, doing it at scale simply isn’t easy.

PAIR is the latest solution on Google Display & Video 360, aka the most widely used demand-side platform in the business or DV360, allowing advertisers to target online campaigns by cross-referencing their proprietary datasets with relevant publishers .

Dan Taylor, vice president of global ads at Google, noted how this allows advertisers and publishers to “privately reconcile their first-party data for audiences” who have visited their respective online properties.

First-party data matching is done at an aggregate level to protect any personally identifiable information shared with any of Google’s major partners, claiming that intermediaries (including itself) will not be able to crack any encryption.

“As a result, advertisers can deliver relevant ads to some of their most interested audiences, helping to increase ad performance and achieve marketing goals,” Taylor added in a blog post.

but what does that mean? Isn’t that just more “clean room” stuff?

Alright, here’s where we have to get a little technical and (boringly) answer the question above by saying, “Well, yes and no.”

PAIR helps connect brands and consumers across relevant websites using common data points, with Taylor citing the example of a shoe brand uploading a customer relationship management database to partner to a relevant publisher via an email address and then serve ads on their website.

While this sounds ideal, most marketers are concerned about using “aggregated data” to target campaigns, although Google hopes to allay these concerns by ensuring that PAIR will let each brand and publisher keep control of their data. .

And yes, it will involve data clean rooms. PAIR can be described as a means of integration with clean rooms via DV360.

How is it different from before?

Here’s the bit of science…and pay attention to the board.

Image credit: Google

“PAIR also protects advertisers and publishers against data leaks by triple-encrypting their first-party data with three different keys: an advertiser key, a publisher key, and a shared key between the two parties,” said Taylor added.

Google also maintains that there is no way to encrypt or identify users through this process, as the transaction requires unique keys for each party involved. “After encryption and reconciliation, the advertiser and publisher both receive the percentage match rate of their respective proprietary audience lists,” Taylor said.

Who does this involve and who should care?

As mentioned, PAIR is the tech giant’s bespoke tool on Google Marketing Platform, including DV360. Ergo, this has the potential to impact many ad-tech and nominally supply-side platforms that wish to trade with the largest DSP in the industry – besides, no PII will be shared with DV360 or any SSP.

Additionally, Google has also named three external cleanroom vendors – Habu, InfoSum, and LiveRamp – as the first testing providers. “As we work to integrate more cleanrooms, partners will have more choices,” Taylor noted, adding that plans are also underway to integrate Google Ads Data Hub’s own solution with PAIR.


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