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CRO Brian Gleason on why Criteo isn’t an ad network

Criteo CEO Megan Clarken took charge in 2019, just weeks before Google confirmed that it had been to hammer the ultimate nail in to the coffin of third-party cookies a move that could end ad retargeting once we know it.

Historically referred to as the industrys go-to retargeting tool, Criteo has since embarked upon an acquisition strategy, with the 2021 purchase of Mabaya, building on its 2016 investment in HookLogic an ad exchange where brands can purchase ads on e-commerce sites. Recently, Criteos purchase of IPONWEB was approved, a move some deem essential to bolstering its footprint on Madison Avenue.

Criteo made these moves to capitalize on the emerging retail media sector, where in fact the likes of Amazon Advertising, Microsofts PromoteiQ and Publicis Groupes CitrusAd will prove stiff competition.

Another key element of Criteos retail media strategy has been the appointment of long-time GroupM exec Brian Gleason as its chief revenue officer. He spoke with Digiday about Criteos plans to integrate IPONWEB, make an impression on Madison Avenue and contend with Big Tech.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Everything began with the HookLogic acquisition, as everything you had was the fragmentation of retail [media] and at the biggest market of it had been Criteos platform.

A lot of people didnt know Criteo for the reason that space however they slowly begun to capture share and create a platform with agencies, in the event that you look at our agency-spend its now significant. It is because in order to reach any retailers then youre to arrive through leading end of our stack.

At the inception [of Criteo] the business enterprise model was certainly very differenttwo years back they changed that model to go 100% self-service [as against managed service buys] where they introduced the platform.

Theres really two sides to your business, theres what Id call the real platform-play that is what Id call our enterprise focus the biggest retailers brands, advertisers and agencies on the planet and we offer connectivity.

Its an identical model to Googlewhere you have DV360 that is a completely different use case in comparison to Performance Max.

Brian Gleason, CRO, Criteo

And nowwhen you go in to the front end, you pay on a platform fee, exactly the same way that you’ll with The Trade Desk or Google DV 360 where its a transparent fee model theres no network play on that side of the business enterprise at all.

So, Criteo isn’t an ad network by any shape or form. The difference is you have maturity cycles which are different. The retailer pays an SSP or ad serving fee that is completely transparent, you have the make of the agency pays a DSP fee which, again, is totally transparent. So, its a platform model.

On the other hand of our business is customer acquisition and retention [through retargeting]. Its an identical model to Google, in the same way an assessment, where you have DV360 that is a completely different use case in comparison to Performance Max.

Weve got 20,000 clients which are again, focused predominantly on acquisition retention, and weve got the rest of the that are centered on the real enterprise platform and advantages they play.

Is it possible to explain the program for IPONWEB and how it’ll develop Criteos retail media strategy?

The IPONWEB acquisition gives us the chops to provide connectivity in two ways.

The SSP MediaGrid on the trunk end gives us usage of off-site [ad inventory]. For some retailers, their audiences are small or in isolation, which means you have to be in a position to scale them, and thats what IPONWEB did well with curation.

In addition, it helps us on leading end, where brands have asked should they can use the entire power of Criteos recommendation engine, audience graph or optimization capabilities, even though they dont have litigant selling product on a specific retailers site.

IPONWEB helps us enable that, so, suddenly it is possible to access our audiences and measurement over the topwhen I believe about commerce media, you obtain retail plus performance marketing.

If youre seeking to have the ability to address your retail channel, most brand and agencies have Amazon because of their distribution, and there is also everyone else whether youre Target, Walgreens, CVS, Macys or Nordstrom.

Most agencies and large brands are likely to Amazon [for distribution and its own retail media], which is where were seeing the largest upliftCriteo unites everyone else [as a media platform], so we think were complementary to Amazon.

I’ve a tremendous quantity of respect for Microsoft, theres no question, but PromoteIQ is really a small element of their overall advertising offering. You look at what theyve finished with Netflix, that is massive, theyve got the gaming acquisition, and theyre likely to have to find out how to proceed making use of their Yahoo relationship [plus Xandr], so its only a element of what they do.

Whereas in the event that you look at our market share, we’ve 50% of the very best retailers on earth, so while PromoteIQ can be an interesting proposition, its more of a spot solution at this stage. At Criteo, this is exactly what we do each day, nobody knows customer retention and acquisition much better than us, that is our DNA with regards to what we do.

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