Google’s Publisher Provided Identifiers (PPIDs) Explained

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Amongst the ever-increasing number of first-party identifiers, Google’s Publisher Provided Identifier (PPID) is not necessarily a new one. But, it has started to gain a lot of attention recently. Especially with their newest update.

In early November, Google confirmed that publishers can now use PPIDs with Google programmatic demand.

But before we get into why publishers should care about this, let’s start with the basics. What is PPID?

What is PPID in advertising?

PPIDs are encrypted, alphanumeric identifiers that are assigned, by the publisher, to signed-in users on their website.

For example, let’s say that two different users sign in to your website to access your content. You can assign each of them an identifier, 12DJD92J02KXVLS9D817DCJ078S8F1J2 and 9SDO1LS9WMS8LZPA0ELAAKC0EF230337, for instance. The identifier is set and controlled by you through Google Ad Manager 360 (GAM 360), the paid version of GAM.

Google has provided instructions on how to set up PPIDs within GAM 360.

To clarify, PPIDs are not data. They simply represent the data behind the identifier.

You can map the number of times a user lands on your website and what content they consume to their PPID. With this information, you can start creating audience segments. In order to create these segments, you’ll need access to Audience Solutions within GAM 360.

What are the benefits of PPID?

First-party guarantee

We mentioned how these IDs are set and controlled by you. As PPIDs are based on your first-party data, they won’t be affected by the third-party cookie deprecation. They can also be used in environments where third-party cookies are already restricted, such as Safari or Firefox. Making them a stable solution for addressability.

Frequency capping

If a user accesses your website using three separate devices, GAM 360 will generate three different IDs. By identifying the visits to be unique, GAM 360 may ignore frequency caps and show the same ad repeatedly to the same user. Thus, resulting in a negative user experience.

With PPIDs, GAM 360 can now recognize that these cross-device visits all belong to the same user. Based on your frequency cap limit, the users will not be inundated with the same ad across different devices. Resulting in a better user experience and campaign performance.

This means that publishers who use frequency capping via third-party cookies won’t be left without options if they start using PPIDs.

Audience segmentation

Earlier, we talked about how you could create audience segments based on PPIDs. What does this mean?

When a user signs up to access your content, they usually need to offer personally identifiable information (PII) like their name, email, address, etc. You can map this data to their PPID, including the devices they use to access your content and the pages they frequent.

Now you can create audience segments from this data to make interest-based groups. From here, you can signal these segments to ad servers, DMPs, and SSPs via the bidstream.

Remember, only you have access to your user’s PII data. PPIDs are encrypted. The players listed above won’t ever see this information. Thereon, the PPID-generated audience segments can be applied to programmatic direct deals and the open auction.

Google’s newest update: PPID for Programmatic

Scenario #1: Without PPIDs

Currently, publishers can categorize their users into interest-based groups based on cross-site behaviour using third-party cookies. Buyers use this information to buy and show relevant ads to users who may be interested in their products and services.

Once third-party cookies go away, it’ll be more difficult to identify what users are interested in. Thus, publishers will have less visitor-related data to send down the bidstream. As a result of this, programmatic buyers won’t be able to accurately decide who to show their ads to.

Scenario #2: With PPIDs

Through PPIDs, publishers can retain ad performance in a cookie-less world. Google aims to accomplish this by integrating these identifiers with programmatic buyers.

In the aforementioned update, publishers can pass PPID data through the bidstream to be used in the open auction. These identifiers will help buyers access and act on this first-party data across all publishers using PPID.

How does it work?

With multiple publishers sharing their unique (encrypted) PPID data, buyers can start creating user profiles on a per-publisher basis.

Let’s visualize this with an example.

A reader logs in to access your DIY-home renovation website. Afterward, they log in to a different website to read about the tools they’ll need. Both websites will create their own unique PPID on the same user and pass this information within the bidstream.

On the buyer’s side, they will see a number of PPIDs across different websites that show that users are interested in DIY home renovations. From here, they can start creating interest-based user profiles.

Visual description of the example above

This is how Google plans to scale and activate first-party data across many publishers.


Yes, this does mean that buyers will need to accumulate an immense amount of PPIDs across many publishers in order to start creating these profiles. However, this method ensures that a user’s privacy is not compromised in the process.

Also, returning to our example above, let’s say you own both websites. You cannot combine the PPID values for the same user. PPIDs are great for single-website publishers but not as much for those with multiple owned-and-operated websites.

Although it may not be a perfect solution, PPIDs are still a reliable tool for programmatic sellers and buyers to use against the third-party cookie deprecation.

In summary

Publishers looking to activate their signed-in user data can do so through PPIDs. Not only will it allow publishers to enable cross-device frequency capping and audience segmentation, but it also provides some level of protection against the deprecation of third-party cookies.

Activating and scaling first-party data can be difficult. Google hopes to alleviate this issue by pooling numerous publishers’ encrypted PPIDs and sharing them with buyers. From here, buyers can create interest-based user profiles for more relevant targeting.

All this with the intention to deliver good user experiences and improve campaign performance in the absence of third-party cookies in the open auction.

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