Home Data Google Unveils PAIR For Clean-Room-Style Activation

Google Unveils PAIR For Clean-Room-Style Activation

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Brands and publishers can add one more first-party data item to their cookieless testing to-do list.

Google built a clean-room-style add-on so brands and publishers with their own customer email lists can match against each other’s audiences.

Dubbed Publisher Advertiser Identity Reconciliation, or PAIR, the solution is available Tuesday via Google DV360, its DSP.

The first-party data solution is one of many that Google expects brands and publishers will adopt as third-party cookies are deprecated on Chrome and as a substitute for other browsers and apps that don’t pass third-party cookies or ad IDs.

To pair via PAIR, brands take their first-party data, in the form of customer email addresses, and encrypt the data. It can then be matched against a publisher’s encrypted readers (also stored in the form of email addresses). Eventually, other forms of first-party data, like phone numbers, may be used as the identity match key, but the initial proof of concept only included emails.

The goal is to help brands reach known customers, such as loyal repeat shoppers, who congregate on a publisher’s site.

The concept isn’t earth-shattering, but it comes with some nuances and riffs that differentiate it from The Trade Desk’s UID 2.0 and Google’s older first-party data product, Google Customer Match.

Unlike UID 2.0, which also uses encrypted email addresses, the data isn’t pooled.

“Advertisers and publishers maintain ownership of the data,” said Dan Taylor, vice president of global ads at Google. “It’s only effective in the individual publishers and advertiser relationships, and there is no ability to create a profile across sites and publishers.”

And unlike Google’s data onboarding 1.0 product, Google Customer Match (similar to Facebook’s performance crack, Custom Audiences), PAIR matches a brand’s first-party data against a publisher’s data, not Google’s data. And it can be used with any supply-side platform (SSP).

The ability to use PAIR with any SSP is part of Google’s new normal. With every Google decision under a microscope by regulators, product decisions spark inquiries and investigations. Chrome can’t even pull cookies from Chrome’s unless the UK’s CMA signs off on it.

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The PAIR product takes into account how regulators might perceive it. Google’s Google Customer Match only worked on the Google Display Network. But PAIR will work with any SSP. And Google isn’t building its own clean-room tech but relying on InfoSum, LiveRamp and Habu to do the matching. These integrations will be live in the middle of next year. Until then, brands and publishers can rely on Google to do a three-step encryption process that’s a bit more manual.

“We want to have a lot of different partner choice,” Taylor said. Choice is “what our customers were asking for.”

Google’s Ads Data Hub (often billed as a standalone clean room) will eventually be offered as a clean-room partner, but not until Q2 of next year. It’s strange, but perhaps a sign of the times, for a Google product to lag behind third-party vendors in terms of Google integrations.

Because PAIR has undergone limited testing so far, the potential scale marketers can achieve is unclear. And PAIR is not a new customer acquisition tactic, Taylor cautioned, that uses lookalike modeling or helps brands find new customers. Since it only reaches known customers, the scale will be smaller than a solution that uses modeled data of existing customers to help find new customers.

Instead, brands will pair solutions like PAIR with two other tactics: machine-learning powered, profile-blurred ways of reaching customers (like Google Performance Max or optimized signals), along with techniques developed in the Privacy Sandbox.

“What I see is a multifaceted approach to marketing in the future, where, in the past, we’ve pinned all of our hopes and dreams on third-party cookies,” Taylor said.

On the sell side, Google introduced encrypted signals for publishers (ESP, now known as Secure Signals), which allows pubs to pass information such as alternate IDs, including UID2s, in the bid request, as long as Google DV360 isn’t the DSP reading that signal. PAIR focuses purely on matching two first-party data sets.

PAIR is the type of first-party data solution that wasn’t an industry focus when third-party cookies were abundant, but is an area of focus for Google now. “We want to create new solutions for first-party data, where, quite frankly, the industry hasn’t invested very much over the years,” Taylor said.

Judging by the abundance of data clean rooms in the market now (Ads Data Hub is now billed as a clean room, and PAIR is deemed a clean room “protocol” between Google’s DSP and multiple other clean rooms), clearly that industry is playing product catch-up. And “clean rooms” can be a mushy term, with varying levels of data security. Google plans to collaborate in IAB Tech Lab conversations this year to settle on a definition of a data clean room. And PAIR will ramp up in coming quarters, notably when Ads Data Hub is added as a partner sometime next year.

This article has been updated to clarify PAIR’s capabilities.

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