Google launches new way for publishers to use first-party data to enhance targeted advertising

Searcher and user privacy is the topic of the year when it comes to digital advertising. Many search marketers and publishers are wondering how initiatives like FLoC and FLEDGE (if they ever make it to market) will affect their daily practices. The initiatives have spurred on a renewed interest in how advertisers and publishers ask for, collect, and use first-party data.

Google announces new way for publishers to use first-party data. In an announcement today, Google said it is offering a new way for publishers to share Publisher-provided identifiers (PPIDs) with Google’s programmatic demand to better customize ads, targeting, and advertising experiences. “By helping publishers expand the use of their first-party identifiers to more transaction types, like the Open Auction, our partners will be able to show ads that are more relevant to their audiences, which will increase the value of their programmatic inventory,” said Steve Swan, Product Manager, Google Ad Manager.

How do PPIDs work? A “Publisher provided identifier or PPID allows publishers to send Google Ad Manager an identifier for use in frequency capping, audience segmentation and targeting, sequential ad rotation, and other audience-based ad delivery controls across devices,” according to Google’s documentation on the topic.

How the new system works. The announcement says that the new form of PPID sharing will both protect privacy and help publishers and advertisers:

  • Before sharing PPIDs with Google demand, Ad Manager turns them into per-publisher partitioned IDs, so users cannot be identified across other publishers’ sites and apps.
  • Then Google Ads and Display & Video 360 aggregate the anonymized data from participating publishers to help build audience segments.
  • Using these segments, advertisers can programmatically deliver relevant ads on publishers’ sites and apps based on first-party data.
  • In addition to helping publishers earn more revenue in the auction, the data also unlocks core functionality for advertisers, like cross-device reach, frequency management, and creative optimization in programmatic inventory without third-party cookies or other identifiers present.

The announcement also emphasizes that advertisers who will be able to build segments off of the PPID data will not be able to see individualized information or user data, “and because PPIDs are unique to each publisher, there is no way to match identifiers or create profiles across sites,” added Swan.

What is first-party data? First-party data is information that websites, advertisers, and publishers collect directly from users and searchers (that they give voluntarily). This includes things like the actions they take on your websites, the data they submit to forms, social data, survey information, and data that already exists in the company’s CRM.

Why we care. Google prioritized this update based on user feedback, mentioned Swan: “Investing in first-party data is a privacy-forward way that publishers can increase the value of their programmatic inventory now and in the future. Given the feedback we’ve heard from partners, we have prioritized this product area and will continue to develop features that empower publishers with the data and identity tools they need to prepare and grow their businesses.” Given the tumultuous relationship Google has had with publishers, this move could help news and other outlets recoup some of the revenue that might be lost to Google’s other policies. This also could benefit the advertisers who show ads on these publications to show a more targeted and useful inventory to readers while keeping user privacy top of mind.


About The Author

Carolyn Lyden serves as the Director of Search Content for Search Engine Land and SMX. With expertise in SEO, content marketing, local search, and analytics, she focuses on making marketers’ jobs easier with important news and educational content.