Google recently announced that publishers now have new ways to activate first-party data through PPIDs – Publisher Provided Identifiers. They also stated that publishers might expect revenue uplifts of up to 15% on some traffic segments by using PPIDs, but shared very little information on how to implement or use PPIDs in a practical way.
We’ve taken time to look at these new capabilities in GAM and can share more on how publishers can best utilise PPIDs.
What are PPIDs?
A Publisher Provided Identifier (or PPID) is simply a unique string passed into Google Ad Manager by a publisher in order to identify a particular user of their website. Publishers who can identify particular users, for example when they are logged in, can assign a unique ID to that user and pass it into Google Ad Manager. This gives Google a means to understand which ad requests come for the same users, even when cookies are restricted or unavailable.
Why does Google need PPIDs?
The go-to way of identifying unique users in the past was to generate a unique ID and have the user save that ID as a cookie on their computer. By checking for these stored cookies, Ad Manager (or whichever other system saved a cookie) can recognise that they are seeing a particular user again.
By saving information on each ID’s whereabouts, , a marketing profile can be built around that ID. This allows users to be targeted by more relevant ads, but can also be used in more utilitarian ways, such as limiting how frequently users see each ad.
Third-party cookies have served this purpose well since the 90s, but their days are numbered and alternatives need to be found. Because PPIDs are passed into the ad request, they do not need to be stored in a cookie or local storage, making them a practical alternative as we head towards a world without third party cookies.
How are PPIDs used?
PPIDs are only utilised when other identifiers (such as the GAM cookie) are not available. They rely on the publisher first identifying unique users and passing an ID to Google. Google then hashes that ID and makes it available to the ad serving system. Once a particular user is identified, this information can be used to better target ads where cookies are not available.
Setting a PPID as the user ID of a logged in user is an obvious use case, but PPIDs aren’t only useful when publishers have logged in users. First-party cookies can still be used to identify unique users locally, with that information then being passed to the ad-server via PPID. This offers the advantage of allowing IDs to be used for all users, even when third party cookies are blocked.
Which publishers benefit from using PPIDs?
Because PPIDs only have an impact where other identifiers are not available, a proportion of users must block third-party cookies for there to be a benefit. With increasing controls on cookies in browsers, this is not uncommon.
PPIDs are an Ad Manager 360 exclusive feature at this time, so publishers using their own Small-Business Google Ad Manager accounts will not have access to the feature . Those with access to Ad Manager 360, either through their own account or by working with a monetisation partner, can use the feature.
PPIDs are not enabled by default on all Ad Manager 360 accounts. If you cannot find a slider to enable “Publisher-provided identifiers for programmatic” under Admin > Global Settings, reach out to your Google Account Manager to have the feature enabled.
How to pass a PPID to Ad Manager
Once you have assigned an ID to a user, you can pass this to Google by adding a single line to your GPT code:
Just change ‘xxxxxxxxxxxx’ to the ID you wish to pass. The ID must meet these requirements:
- Minimum 32 characters
- Maximum 150 characters
- Alphanumeric ([0-9 a-z A-Z]) or UUID HEX representation (8-4-4-4-12).
How do PPIDs help drive revenue?
The Google announcement reported revenue gains of 15% where other identifiers were not available, but there was not much detail to support that. Frequency capping alone will not bring those gains, so it seems likely that PPIDs were used to build targetable audiences.
Once you can identify a user you can start grouping users by valuable segments. This can be based on behaviour, such as viewing certain types of content, from user-provided data, or data from other sources. The gains listed likely come from deals targeting audiences in this way.
It would be interesting to know whether Google had a plan to provide general interest and demographic tagging by PPID through the open auction in the future. This would allow publishers who don’t have programmatic sales teams to see more benefit from implementing PPIDs.
Mat has been supporting content creators on the web since 1996. As Co-founder of OKO Digital, Mat became the first person in the UK qualified to AdSense partner status and repeated this first with Google Certified Publishing Partner programme.