Hubspot Custom Styles
May 6, 2024
Optable Marketing Staff

Advancing Privacy-First Advertising: IAB Tech Lab Merging PAIR and OPJA

OPJA and PAIR merge into single protocol with significant contribution from the team at Optable

Data Clean Rooms
Data Collaboration

In a significant move towards scaling interoperable privacy-safe data collaboration, the Publisher Advertiser Identity Reconciliation (PAIR) and IAB Tech Lab's Open Private Join & Activation (OPJA) are in the process of being merged into a single, unified industry standard: IAB Tech Lab PAIR. Both standards were designed with similar goals, you can learn more about the broader goals for developing OPJA here.

This merger enhances the open clean room activation standard originally created in OPJA and further advances interoperability within the ad ecosystem. Ultimately, a single consolidated and open clean room interoperability standard will make it much easier for advertisers and publishers to safely use first-party PII for audience activation in the era of privacy, even when they are using different clean room vendors.  

Optable's Leading Role in Developing OPJA

The Optable team has played a leading role in developing the OPJA standard, contributing significantly to its design and development. Our efforts have focused on creating a Data Clean Room specification that supports scalable and secure collaboration, critical for marketing use cases that leverage first-party data while ensuring customer privacy.

DSPs play a key role in enabling industry-wide adoption of OPJA/PAIR as most advertisers looking to activate retargeting or other high-value first-party audiences store them within their DSP. However, adoption of advanced cryptography for these traditional ad tech platforms remains a challenge. The original OPJA proposal required DSPs to manage encryption keys and participate in decryption via a Hybrid Public Key Encryption (HPKE) process. Unfortunately,  HPKE has not seen any adoption from legacy DSPs within this past year.

The Enhanced PAIR Standard

When compared to OPJA, a key improvement in the upcoming IAB Tech Lab version of the PAIR protocol is a simplified activation workflow for DSPs. PAIR will enable any integrating DSP to activate overlapping audiences matched in compatible clean rooms without requiring a substantial overhaul of existing segment targeting capabilities. Instead of OPJA’s encrypted labels, PAIR identifiers are hashed and encrypted IDs that publishers can regularly rotate and make available to DSP partners via the OpenRTB protocol's user.eids object. The list of matching PAIR IDs is sent to the DSP by the advertiser’s clean room, which enables the activation to happen with neither the advertiser nor their DSP being able to link which individual users are being targeted. An integrating DSP needs to add support for the new PAIR ID type, but does not need to perform any encryption or decryption operations, which we hope will greatly simplify and encourage DSP adoption.

In addition to simplified activation in DSPs the new PAIR protocol will continue to support both single and two-clean room protocols, which is a functionality initially introduced by OPJA. What this means is that clean room collaboration can actually take place across different clean room vendors which unlocks additional interoperability for both advertisers and publishers. This is important as both advertisers and publishers need to be able to safely activate audiences without having to change their chosen vendor.

We are actively collaborating with our colleagues at the IAB Tech Lab to finalize the open PAIR standard. Optable is committing to supporting the upgraded standard in our platform, and providing an out of the box solution to the leading publishers that we work with to accept and seamlessly activate PAIR matches from any advertiser, regardless of the clean room vendor they've selected.

Stay tuned for more exciting news on IAB Tech Lab PAIR in the near future!