Criteo’s Global Expansion Accelerates Growth, As President Coleman Exits

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Criteo Q2 2014

France-based ad tech company Criteo crossed into the black in the second quarter, recording net income of $3.2 million. During the same time period last year, the company lost $7.5 million. The retargeting-focused display advertising company charges on a CPC model for performance-focused clients. (Earnings release)

The solid momentum comes as President Greg Coleman exits to join BuzzFeed as President, replacing Jon Steinberg who left that company in recent months, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In the second quarter of 2014, Criteo’s revenue grew 72% to $221 million. Last year, its revenue was $133 million for the quarter.

Criteo went public at the end of October, shortly after its competitor Rocket Fuel. Its stock started out priced around $30, jumped to almost $60 in March, and has since returned to $30. In after-hours trading following the call, the stock jumped almost 10%.

During a call with investors, CEO and co-founder Jean-Baptise Rudelle cited "further improved performance of the Criteo Engine and our mobile solutions" during the quarter. He added Criteo grew its client base especially in the mid-market as it has developed a self-service model and inside sales force. And Rudelle said the company has "strong execution across all geos," with the Americas, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific regions all showing growth in the 60-100% range.

At the end of June, the Criteo Engine made a significant upgrade. Clients could optimize based on conversions, not clicks. This technology was two years in the making, according to Rudelle, in part because the predictive technology has a much smaller pool of information to draw on. Sixty percent of clients are now using this new model. Using the new technology requires education on the brand end, slowing adoption. But the rewards are great: Rudelle said post-click sales increased 88% with the new technology, which he said was a sign the company's investment in technology is paying off.

"Mobile is a very significant part of our business," Rudelle stated. "We served personalized mobile ads for 69% of our client base," and app install ads, while still in beta, are promising. As commerce and conversions move to mobile devices, more of Criteo's users will migrate there as well, Rudelle predicted, adding that this is already a trend Criteo is observing.

The diversification of the product set into mobile as well as Criteo's email marketing product (it acquired email marketing personalization company Tedemis in February) is another reason Rudelle said 35% of revenue growth came from increased spending from existing clients.

Expansion into global markets contributed to growth. Criteo added 564 new clients in the second quarter, for a total of 6,131, and representing 43% year-over-year growth. Key customer wins during the quarter included Orvis and Party City in the Americas. In EMEA, the Abritel Group, which has Homeaway, was among the wins, along with ING, Samsung, PayPal, and Voyages-SNCF.com, which is the French national railway. In Asia-Pacific, Criteo won AB Road and music.jp. Growth was especially strong in the mid-market segment.

Criteo also added 530 publishers to its stable of over 7,000 relationships. But there is one big one missing. Criteo does not have a mobile link to Facebook, despite the fact that the social network accounts for some 20% of all global mobile traffic outside the Asia-Pacific region. When this came up in the Q&A session, it was clearly a cause of concern for investors, who pushed for a timeline on when this might happen.

"Facebook recognizes we are a strategic partner for them, and a bigger buyer on FBX," Rudell countered. "On the mobile piece, we are making progress, but it's taking time, and not entirely in our control. There is a technical road map on each side." Both companies have complex technical setups that make linking their technologies time-consuming and difficult. Rudelle said linking to Facebook desktop also required complex integration, so that same experience is now repeating itself on the mobile platform.

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